Authentic Learning - In this type of learning, materials and activities are framed around "real life" contexts in which

they would be used. The underlying assumption of this approach is that material is meaningful to students and therefore, more motivating and deeply processed. Related terms/concepts include: contextualized learning, theme-based curriculum. Contextualized Learning - In this approach, material is taught in the context in which it would be used in "real life." The underlying assumption is that the context provides meaningfulness to abstract information, making it more concrete and therefore, easier to learn. Related terms/concepts include: theme-based learning, authentic learning, experiential learning. Experiential Learning -involves the student in his/her learning to a much greater degree than in traditional (pedagogical) learning environments. Related terms/concepts include: active learning, hands on learning, deep level processing, higher order thinking.

What is Authentic Assessment?
Definitions
A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills -- Jon Mueller "...Engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field." -- Grant Wiggins -- (Wiggins, 1993, p. 229). "Performance assessments call upon the examinee to demonstrate specific skills and competencies, that is, to apply the skills and knowledge they have mastered." -- Richard J. Stiggins -- (Stiggins, 1987, p. 34).

What does Authentic Assessment look like?
An authentic assessment usually includes a task for students to perform and a rubric by which their performance on the task will be evaluated. Click the following links to see many examples of authentic tasks and rubrics.

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Examples from teachers in my Authentic Assessment course

How is Authentic Assessment similar to/different from Traditional Assessment?
The following comparison is somewhat simplistic, but I hope it illuminates the different assumptions of the two approaches to assessment.

Traditional Assessment By "traditional assessment" (TA) I am referring to the forced-choice measures of multiple-choice tests, fill-in-the-blanks, true-false, matching and the like that have been and remain so common in education. Students typically select an answer or recall information to complete the assessment. These tests may be standardized or teacher-created. They may be administered locally or statewide, or internationally. Behind traditional and authentic assessments is a belief that the primary mission of schools is to help develop productive citizens. That is the essence of most mission statements I have read. From this common beginning, the two perspectives on assessment diverge. Essentially, TA is grounded in educational philosophy that adopts the following reasoning and practice: 1. A school's mission is to develop productive citizens. 2. To be a productive citizen an individual must possess a certain body of knowledge and skills. 3. Therefore, schools must teach this body of knowledge and skills. 4. To determine if it is successful, the school must then test students to see if they acquired the knowledge and skills. In the TA model, the curriculum drives assessment. "The" body of knowledge is determined first. That knowledge becomes the curriculum that is delivered. Subsequently, the assessments are developed and administered to determine if acquisition of the curriculum occurred. Authentic Assessment In contrast, authentic assessment (AA) springs from the following reasoning and practice: 1. A school's mission is to develop productive citizens. 2. To be a productive citizen, an individual must be capable of performing meaningful tasks in the real world. 3. Therefore, schools must help students become proficient at performing the tasks they will encounter when they graduate. 4. To determine if it is successful, the school must then ask students to perform meaningful tasks that replicate real world challenges to see if students are capable of doing so. Thus, in AA, assessment drives the curriculum. That is, teachers first determine the tasks that students will perform to demonstrate their mastery, and then a curriculum is developed that will enable students to perform those tasks well, which would include the acquisition of essential knowledge and skills. This has been referred to as planning backwards (e.g., McDonald, 1992). If I were a golf instructor and I taught the skills required to perform well, I would not assess my students' performance by giving them a multiple choice test. I would put them out on the golf course and ask them to perform. Although this is obvious with athletic skills, it is also true for academic subjects. We can teach students how to do math, do history and do science, not just know them. Then, to assess what our students had learned, we can ask students to perform tasks that "replicate the challenges" faced by those using mathematics, doing history or conducting scientific investigation. Authentic Assessment Complements Traditional Assessment But a teacher does not have to choose between AA and TA. It is likely that some mix of the two will best meet your needs. To use a silly example, if I had to choose a chauffeur from between someone who passed the driving portion of the driver's license test but failed the written portion or someone who failed the driving portion and passed the written portion, I would choose the driver who most directly demonstrated the ability to drive, that is, the one who passed the driving portion of the test. However, I would prefer a driver who passed both portions. I would feel more comfortable knowing that my chauffeur had a good knowledge base about driving (which might best be assessed in a

traditional manner) and was able to apply that knowledge in a real context (which could be demonstrated through an authentic assessment). Defining Attributes of Traditional and Authentic Assessment Another way that AA is commonly distinguished from TA is in terms of its defining attributes. Of course, TA's as well as AA's vary considerably in the forms they take. But, typically, along the continuums of attributes listed below, TA's fall more towards the left end of each continuum and AA's fall more towards the right end.

Traditional --------------------------------------------- Authentic Selecting a Response ------------------------------------ Performing a Task Contrived --------------------------------------------------------------- Real-life Recall/Recognition ------------------------------- Construction/Application Teacher-structured ------------------------------------- Student-structured Indirect Evidence -------------------------------------------- Direct Evidence

Let me clarify the attributes by elaborating on each in the context of traditional and authentic assessments: Selecting a Response to Performing a Task: On traditional assessments, students are typically given several choices (e.g., a,b,c or d; true or false; which of these match with those) and asked to select the right answer. In contrast, authentic assessments ask students to demonstrate understanding by performing a more complex task usually representative of more meaningful application. Contrived to Real-life: It is not very often in life outside of school that we are asked to select from four alternatives to indicate our proficiency at something. Tests offer these contrived means of assessment to increase the number of times you can be asked to demonstrate proficiency in a short period of time. More commonly in life, as in authentic assessments, we are asked to demonstrate proficiency by doing something. Recall/Recognition of Knowledge to Construction/Application of Knowledge: Well-designed traditional assessments (i.e., tests and quizzes) can effectively determine whether or not students have acquired a body of knowledge. Thus, as mentioned above, tests can serve as a nice complement to authentic assessments in a teacher's assessment portfolio. Furthermore, we are often asked to recall or recognize facts and ideas and propositions in life, so tests are somewhat authentic in that sense. However, the demonstration of recall and recognition on tests is typically much less revealing about what we really know and can do than when we are asked to construct a product or performance out of facts, ideas and propositions. Authentic assessments often ask students to analyze, synthesize and apply what they have learned in a substantial manner, and students create new meaning in the process as well. Teacher-structured to Student-structured: When completing a traditional assessment, what a student can and will demonstrate has been carefully structured by the person(s) who developed the test. A student's attention will understandably be focused on and limited to what is on the test. In

contrast, authentic assessments allow more student choice and construction in determining what is presented as evidence of proficiency. Even when students cannot choose their own topics or formats, there are usually multiple acceptable routes towards constructing a product or performance. Obviously, assessments more carefully controlled by the teachers offer advantages and disadvantages. Similarly, more student-structured tasks have strengths and weaknesses that must be considered when choosing and designing an assessment. Indirect Evidence to Direct Evidence: Even if a multiple-choice question asks a student to analyze or apply facts to a new situation rather than just recall the facts, and the student selects the correct answer, what do you now know about that student? Did that student get lucky and pick the right answer? What thinking led the student to pick that answer? We really do not know. At best, we can make some inferences about what that student might know and might be able to do with that knowledge. The evidence is very indirect, particularly for claims of meaningful application in complex, real-world situations. Authentic assessments, on the other hand, offer more direct evidence of application and construction of knowledge. As in the golf example above, putting a golf student on the golf course to play provides much more direct evidence of proficiency than giving the student a written test. Can a student effectively critique the arguments someone else has presented (an important skill often required in the real world)? Asking a student to write a critique should provide more direct evidence of that skill than asking the student a series of multiple-choice, analytical questions about a passage, although both assessments may be useful. Teaching to the Test These two different approaches to assessment also offer different advice about teaching to the test. Under the TA model, teachers have been discouraged from teaching to the test. That is because a test usually assesses a sample of students' knowledge and understanding and assumes that students' performance on the sample is representative of their knowledge of all the relevant material. If teachers focus primarily on the sample to be tested during instruction, then good performance on that sample does not necessarily reflect knowledge of all the material. So, teachers hide the test so that the sample is not known beforehand, and teachers are admonished not to teach to the test. With AA, teachers are encouraged to teach to the test. Students need to learn how to perform well on meaningful tasks. To aid students in that process, it is helpful to show them models of good (and not so good) performance. Furthermore, the student benefits from seeing the task rubric ahead of time as well. Is this "cheating"? Will students then just be able to mimic the work of others without truly understanding what they are doing? Authentic assessments typically do not lend themselves to mimicry. There is not one correct answer to copy. So, by knowing what good performance looks like, and by knowing what specific characteristics make up good performance, students can better develop the skills and understanding necessary to perform well on these tasks. (For further discussion of teaching to the test, see Bushweller.)

Alternative Names for Authentic Assessment
You can also learn something about what AA is by looking at the other common names for this form of assessment. For example, AA is sometimes referred to as

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Performance Assessment (or Performance-based) -- so-called because students are asked to perform meaningful tasks. This is the other most common term for this type of assessment. Some educators distinguish performance assessment from AA by defining performance assessment as performance-based as Stiggins has above but with no reference to the authentic nature of the task (e.g., Meyer, 1992). For these educators, authentic assessments are performance assessments using real-world or authentic tasks or contexts. Since we should not typically ask students to perform work that is not authentic in nature, I choose to treat these two terms synonymously.

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Alternative Assessment -- so-called because AA is an alternative to traditional assessments. Direct Assessment -- so-called because AA provides more direct evidence of meaningful application of knowledge and skills. If a student does well on a multiple-choice test we might infer indirectly that the student could apply that knowledge in real-world contexts, but we would be more comfortable making that inference from a direct demonstration of that application such as in the golfing example above.

Authentic Tasks
Characteristics of Authentic Tasks Types of Authentic Tasks

Authentic Task: An assignment given to students designed to assess their ability to apply standarddriven knowledge and skills to real-world challenges In other words, a task we ask students to perform is considered authentic when 1) students are asked to construct their own responses rather than select from ones presented and 2) the task replicates challenges faced in the real world. (Of course, other definitions abound.) If I were teaching you how to play golf, I would not determine whether you had met my standards by giving you a multiple-choice test. I would put you out on the golf course to "construct your own responses" in the face of real-world challenges. Similarly, in school we are ultimately less interested in how much information students can acquire than how well they can use it. Thus, our most meaningful assessments ask students to perform authentic tasks. However, these tasks are not just assessments. Authentic assessment, in contrast to more traditional assessment, encourages the integration of teaching, learning and assessing. In the "traditional assessment" model, teaching and learning are often separated from assessment, i.e., a test is administered after knowledge or skills have (hopefully) been acquired. In the authentic assessment model, the same authentic task used to measure the students' ability to apply the knowledge or skills is used as a vehicle for student learning. For example, when presented with a real-world problem to solve, students are learning in the process of developing a solution, teachers are facilitating the process, and the students' solutions to the problem becomes an assessment of how well the students can meaningfully apply the concepts.

Characteristics of Authentic Tasks
Another way that authentic assessment is commonly distinguished from raditional assessment is in terms of their defining attributes. Of course, traditional assessments as well as authentic assessments vary considerably in the forms they take. But, typically, along the continuums of attributes listed below, traditional assessments fall more towards the left end of each continuum and authentic assessments fall more towards the right end.

Traditional ------------------------------------------- Authentic Selecting a Response ----------------------------------- Performing a Task Contrived -------------------------------------------------------------- Real-life Recall/Recognition ------------------------------ Construction/Application Teacher-structured ------------------------------------ Student-structured Indirect Evidence ------------------------------------------- Direct Evidence

Let me clarify the attributes by elaborating on each in the context of traditional and authentic assessments: Selecting a Response to Performing a Task: On traditional assessments, students are typically given several choices (e.g., a,b,c or d; true or false; which of these match with those) and asked to select the right answer. In contrast, authentic assessments ask students to demonstrate understanding by performing a more complex task usually representative of more meaningful application. Contrived to Real-life: It is not very often in life outside of school that we are asked to select from four alternatives to indicate our proficiency at something. Tests offer these contrived means of assessment to increase the number of times you can be asked to demonstrate proficiency in a short period of time. More commonly in life, as in authentic assessments, we are asked to demonstrate proficiency by doing something. Recall/Recognition of Knowledge to Construction/Application of Knowledge: Well-designed traditional assessments (i.e., tests and quizzes) can effectively determine whether or not students have acquired a body of knowledge. Thus, as mentioned above, tests can serve as a nice complement to authentic assessments in a teacher's assessment portfolio. Furthermore, we are often asked to recall or recognize facts and ideas and propositions in life, so tests are somewhat authentic in that sense. However, the demonstration of recall and recognition on tests is typically much less revealing about what we really know and can do than when we are asked to construct a product or performance out of facts, ideas and propositions. Authentic assessments often ask students to analyze, synthesize and apply what they have learned in a substantial manner, and students create new meaning in the process as well. Teacher-structured to Student-structured: When completing a traditional assessment, what a student can and will demonstrate has been carefully structured by the person(s) who developed the test. A student's attention will understandably be focused on and limited to what is on the test. In contrast, authentic assessments allow more student choice and construction in determining what is presented as evidence of proficiency. Even when students cannot choose their own topics or formats, there are usually multiple acceptable routes towards constructing a product or performance. Obviously, assessments more carefully controlled by the teachers offer advantages and disadvantages. Similarly, more student-structured tasks have strengths and weaknesses that must be considered when choosing and designing an assessment. Indirect Evidence to Direct Evidence: Even if a multiple-choice question asks a student to analyze or apply facts to a new situation rather than just recall the facts, and the student selects the correct answer, what do you now know about that student? Did that student get lucky and pick the right answer? What thinking led the student to pick that answer? We really do not know. At best, we can make some inferences about what that student might know and might be able to do with that

knowledge. The evidence is very indirect, particularly for claims of meaningful application in complex, real-world situations. Authentic assessments, on the other hand, offer more direct evidence of application and construction of knowledge. As in the golf example above, putting a golf student on the golf course to play provides much more direct evidence of proficiency than giving the student a written test. Can a student effectively critique the arguments someone else has presented (an important skill often required in the real world)? Asking a student to write a critique should provide more direct evidence of that skill than asking the student a series of multiple-choice, analytical questions about a passage, although both assessments may be useful.

Types of Authentic Tasks
I have used the term traditional assessment on this site to refer to the many tests that are commonly administered to assess the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Tests usually consist of selectedresponse items (see below) and, occasionally, some constructed-response items. In contrast, authentic assessments include tasks such as performances, products and constructed-response items that typically require more direct application of knowledge and skills. These types of tasks are described below along with common examples of each. (Click here to see a similar framework.) Selected-response In response to a prompt, students select an answer from among those given or from memory or from allowable study aids. Typically, no new knowledge is constructed; students simply recall or recognize information required to select the appropriate response. Examples include Multiple-choice tests True-false Matching Fill-in-the-blank Label a diagram Constructed Response In response to a prompt, students construct an answer out of old and new knowledge. Since there is no one exact answer to these prompts, students are constructing new knowledge that likely differs slightly or significantly from that constructed by other students. Typically, constructed response prompts are narrowly conceived, delivered at or near the same time a response is expected and are limited in length. However, the fact that students must construct new knowledge means that at least some of their thinking must be revealed. As opposed to selected response items, the teachers gets to look inside the head a little with constructed response answers. Examples include (product-like): Short-answer essay questions "Show your work" Concept maps Figural representation (e.g., Venn diagram) Journal response (performance-like): Typing test Complete a step of science lab On demand, construct a short musical, dance or dramatic response On demand, exhibit an athletic skill

Product In response to a prompt (assignment) or series of prompts, students construct a substantial, tangible product that reveals their understanding of certain concepts and skills and/or their ability to apply, analyze, synthesize or evaluate those concepts and skills. It is similar to a constructed-response item in that students are required to construct new knowledge and not just select a response. However, product assessments typically are more substantial in depth and length, more broadly conceived, and allow more time between the presentation of the prompt and the student response than constructedresponse items. Examples include Essays, stories or poems Research reports Extended journal responses Art exhibit or portfolio Lab reports Newspaper Poster Performance In response to a prompt (assignment) or series of prompts, students construct a performance that reveals their understanding of certain concepts and skills and/or their ability to apply, analyze, synthesize or evaluate those concepts and skills. It is similar to a constructed-response item in that students are required to construct new knowledge and not just select a response. However, performances typically are more substantial in depth and length, more broadly conceived, and allow more time between the presentation of the prompt and the student response than constructedresponse items. Examples include Conducting an experiment Musical, dance or dramatic performances Debates Athletic competition Oral presentation

Rubrics
Descriptors Why Include Levels of Performance? Analytic Versus Holistic Rubrics How Many Levels of Performance Should I Include in my Rubric?

Rubric: A scoring scale used to assess student performance along a task-specific set of criteria Authentic assessments typically are criterion-referenced measures. That is, a student's aptitude on a task is determined by matching the student's performance against a set of criteria to determine the degree to which the student's performance meets the criteria for the task. To measure student performance against a pre-determined set of criteria, a rubric, or scoring scale, is typically created which contains the essential criteria for the task and appropriate levels of performance for each criterion. For example, the following rubric (scoring scale) covers the research portion of a project:

Research Rubric
Criteria Number of Sources Historical Accuracy Organization x1 1-4 x3 Lots of historical inaccuracies 1 5-9 Few inaccuracies 2 10-12 No apparent inaccuracies Can easily tell which sources info was drawn from All relevant information is included 3

Can not tell from which Can tell with difficulty where information x1 source information came came from x1 Bibiliography contains very little information Bibliography contains most relevant information

Bibliography

As in the above example, a rubric is comprised of two components: criteria and levels of performance. Each rubric has at least two criteria and at least two levels of performance. The criteria, characteristics of good performance on a task, are listed in the left-hand column in the rubric above (number of sources, historical accuracy, organization and bibliography). Actually, as is common in rubrics, the author has used shorthand for each criterion to make it fit easily into the table. The full criteria are statements of performance such as "include a sufficient number of sources" and "project contains few historical inaccuracies." For each criterion, the evaluator applying the rubric can determine to what degree the student has met the criterion, i.e., the level of performance. In the above rubric, there are three levels of performance for each criterion. For example, the project can contain lots of historical inaccuracies, few inaccuracies or no inaccuracies. Finally, the rubric above contains a mechanism for assigning a score to each project. (Assessments and their accompanying rubrics can be used for purposes other than evaluation and, thus, do not have to have points or grades attached to them.) In the second-to-left column a weight is assigned each criterion. Students can receive 1, 2 or 3 points for "number of sources." But historical accuracy, more important in this teacher's mind, is weighted three times (x3) as heavily. So, students can receive 3, 6 or 9 points (i.e., 1, 2 or 3 times 3) for the level of accuracy in their projects.

Descriptors
The above rubric includes another common, but not a necessary, component of rubrics -- descriptors. Descriptors spell out what is expected of students at each level of performance for each criterion. In the above example, "lots of historical inaccuracies," "can tell with difficulty where information came from" and "all relevant information is included" are descriptors. A descriptor tells students more precisely what performance looks like at each level and how their work may be distinguished from the work of others for each criterion. Similarly, the descriptors help the teacher more precisely and consistently distinguish between student work. Many rubrics do not contain descriptors, just the criteria and labels for the different levels of performance. For example, imagine we strip the rubric above of its descriptors and put in labels for each level instead. Here is how it would look:

Criteria Number of Sources Historical Accuracy Organization Bibliography x1 x3 x1 x1

Poor (1)

Good (2)

Excellent (3)

It is not easy to write good descriptors for each level and each criterion. So, when you first construct and use a rubric you might not include descriptors. That is okay. You might just include the criteria and some type of labels for the levels of performance as in the table above. Once you have used the rubric and identified student work that fits into each level it will become easier to articulate what you mean by "good" or "excellent." Thus, you might add or expand upon descriptors the next time you use the rubric.

Why Include Levels of Performance?
Clearer expectations As mentioned in Step 3, it is very useful for the students and the teacher if the criteria are identified and communicated prior to completion of the task. Students know what is expected of them and teachers know what to look for in student performance. Similarly, students better understand what good (or bad) performance on a task looks like if levels of performance are identified, particularly if descriptors for each level are included. More consistent and objective assessment In addition to better communicating teacher expectations, levels of performance permit the teacher to more consistently and objectively distinguish between good and bad performance, or between superior, mediocre and poor performance, when evaluating student work. Better feedback Furthermore, identifying specific levels of student performance allows the teacher to provide more detailed feedback to students. The teacher and the students can more clearly recognize areas that need improvement.

Analytic Versus Holistic Rubrics
For a particular task you assign students, do you want to be able to assess how well the students perform on each criterion, or do you want to get a more global picture of the students' performance on the entire task? The answer to that question is likely to determine the type of rubric you choose to create or use: Analytic or holistic. Analytic rubric Most rubrics, like the Research rubric above, are analytic rubrics. An analytic rubric articulates levels of performance for each criterion so the teacher can assess student performance on each criterion. Using the Research rubric, a teacher could assess whether a student has done a poor, good or excellent job of "organization" and distinguish that from how well the student did on "historical accuracy."

Holistic rubric In contrast, a holistic rubric does not list separate levels of performance for each criterion. Instead, a holistic rubric assigns a level of performance by assessing performance across multiple criteria as a whole. For example, the analytic research rubric above can be turned into a holistic rubric:
3 - Excellent Researcher included 10-12 sources no apparent historical inaccuracies can easily tell which sources information was drawn from all relevant information is included

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2 - Good Researcher included 5-9 sources few historical inaccuracies can tell with difficulty where information came from bibliography contains most relevant information

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1 - Poor Researcher included 1-4 sources lots of historical inaccuracies cannot tell from which source information came bibliography contains very little information

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In the analytic version of this rubric, 1, 2 or 3 points is awarded for the number of sources the student included. In contrast, number of sources is considered along with historical accuracy and the other criteria in the use of a holistic rubric to arrive at a more global (or holistic) impression of the student work. Another example of a holistic rubric is the "Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric" (in PDF) developed by Facione & Facione. When to choose an analytic rubric Analytic rubrics are more common because teachers typically want to assess each criterion separately, particularly for assignments that involve a larger number of criteria. It becomes more and more difficult to assign a level of performance in a holistic rubric as the number of criteria increases. For example, what level would you assign a student on the holistic research rubric above if the student included 12 sources, had lots of inaccuracies, did not make it clear from which source information came, and whose bibliography contained most relevant information? As student performance increasingly varies across criteria it becomes more difficult to assign an appropriate holistic category to the performance. Additionally, an analytic rubric better handles weighting of criteria. How would you treat "historical accuracy" as more important a criterion in the holistic rubric? It is not easy. But the analytic rubric handles it well by using a simple multiplier for each criterion. When to choose a holistic rubric So, when might you use a holistic rubric? Holistic rubrics tend to be used when a quick or gross judgment needs to be made. If the assessment is a minor one, such as a brief homework assignment, it may be sufficient to apply a holistic judgment (e.g., check, check-plus, or no-check) to quickly review student work. But holistic rubrics can also be employed for more substantial assignments. On

some tasks it is not easy to evaluate performance on one criterion independently of performance on a different criterion. For example, many writing rubrics (see example) are holistic because it is not always easy to disentangle clarity from organization or content from presentation. So, some educators believe a holistic or global assessment of student performance better captures student ability on certain tasks. (Alternatively, if two criteria are nearly inseparable, the combination of the two can be treated as a single criterion in an analytic rubric.)

How Many Levels of Performance Should I Include in my Rubric?
There is no specific number of levels a rubric should or should not possess. It will vary depending on the task and your needs. A rubric can have as few as two levels of performance (e.g., a checklist) or as many as ... well, as many as you decide is appropriate. (Some do not consider a checklist a rubric because it only has two levels -- a criterion was met or it wasn't. But because a checklist does contain criteria and at least two levels of performance, I include it under the category of rubrics.) Also, it is not true that there must be an even number or an odd number of levels. Again, that will depend on the situation. To further address how many levels of performance should be included in a rubric, I am will separately address analytic and holistic rubrics. Analytic rubrics Generally, it is better to start with a smaller number of levels of performance for a criterion and then expand if necessary. Making distinctions in student performance across two or three broad categories is difficult enough. As the number of levels increases, and those judgments become finer and finer, the likelihood of error increases. Thus, start small. For example, in an oral presentation rubric, amount of eye contact might be an important criterion. Performance on that criterion could be judged along three levels of performance: never, sometimes, always.

makes eye contact with audience

never sometimes

always

Although these three levels may not capture all the variation in student performance on the criterion, it may be sufficient discrimination for your purposes. Or, at the least, it is a place to start. Upon applying the three levels of performance, you might discover that you can effectively group your students' performance in these three categories. Furthermore, you might discover that the labels of never, sometimes and always sufficiently communicates to your students the degree to which they can improve on making eye contact. On the other hand, after applying the rubric you might discover that you cannot effectively discriminate among student performance with just three levels of performance. Perhaps, in your view, many students fall in between never and sometimes, or between sometimes and always, and neither label accurately captures their performance. So, at this point, you may decide to expand the number of levels of performance to include never, rarely, sometimes, usually and always.

makes eye contact

never rarely sometimes

usually always

There is no "right" answer as to how many levels of performance there should be for a criterion in an analytic rubric; that will depend on the nature of the task assigned, the criteria being evaluated, the students involved and your purposes and preferences. For example, another teacher might decide to leave off the "always" level in the above rubric because "usually" is as much as normally can be expected or even wanted in some instances. Thus, the "makes eye contact" portion of the rubric for that teacher might be

makes eye contact

never

rarely

sometimes

usually

So, I recommend that you begin with a small number of levels of performance for each criterion, apply the rubric one or more times, and then re-examine the number of levels that best serve your needs. I believe starting small and expanding if necessary is preferable to starting with a larger number of levels and shrinking the number because rubrics with fewer levels of performance are normally

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easier and quicker to administer easier to explain to students (and others) easier to expand than larger rubrics are to shrink

The fact that rubrics can be modified and can reasonably vary from teacher to teacher again illustrates that rubrics are flexible tools to be shaped to your purposes. To read more about the decisions involved in developing a rubric, see the chapter entitled, "Step 4: Create the Rubric." Holistic rubrics Much of the advice offered above for analytic rubrics applies to holistic rubrics as well. Start with a small number of categories, particularly since holistic rubrics often are used for quick judgments on smaller tasks such as homework assignments. For example, you might limit your broad judgments to

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or

satisfactory unsatisfactory not attempted

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check-plus check no check

or even just

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satisfactory (check) unsatisfactory (no check)

Of course, to aid students in understanding what you mean by "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" you would want to include descriptors explaining what satisfactory performance on the task looks like. Even with more elaborate holistic rubrics for more complex tasks I recommend that you begin with a small number of levels of performance. Once you have applied the rubric you can better judge if you need to expand the levels to more effectively capture and communicate variation in student performance. To read more about the decisions involved in developing rubrics, see Step 4: Create a Rubric

Portfolios

What is a Portfolio?

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re Portfolios Authentic Assessments?

Why use Portfolios? How do you Create a Portfolio Assignment?

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Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio? Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created? Content: What samples of student work will be included? Process: What processes will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio? o Selection of Contents o Reflection on Samples of Work o Conferencing on Student Work and Processes Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio? Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences? Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, how and when should it be evaluated?

Can I do Portfolios Without all the Fuss?

Portfolio: A collection of a student's work specifically selected to tell a particular story about the student

What is a Portfolio?
Note: My focus will be on portfolios of student work rather than teacher portfolios or other types. Student portfolios take many forms, as discussed below, so it is not easy to describe them. A portfolio is not the pile of student work that accumulates over a semester or year. Rather, a portfolio contains a purposefully selected subset of student work. "Purposefully" selecting student work means deciding what type of story you want the portfolio to tell. For example, do you want it to highlight or celebrate the progress a student has made? Then, the portfolio might contain samples of earlier and later work, often with the student commenting upon or assessing the growth. Do you want the portfolio to capture the process of learning and growth? Then, the student and/or teacher might select items that illustrate the development of one or more skills with reflection upon the process that led to that development. Or, do you want the portfolio to showcase the final products or best work of a student? In that case, the portfolio would likely contain samples that best exemplify the student's current ability to apply relevant knowledge and skills. All decisions about a portfolio assignment begin with the type of story or purpose for the portfolio. The particular purpose(s) served, the number and type of items included, the process for selecting the items to be included, how and whether students respond to the items selected, and other decisions vary from portfolio to portfolio and serve to define what each portfolio looks like. I will describe many of the purposes and characteristics in the sections below.

Are Portfolios Authentic Assessments? Some suggest that portfolios are not really assessments at all because they are just collections of previously completed assessments. But, if we consider assessing as gathering of information about someone or something for a purpose, then a portfolio is a type of assessment. Sometimes the portfolio is also evaluated or graded, but that is not necessary to be considered an assessment. Are portfolios authentic assessments? Student portfolios have most commonly been associated with collections of artwork and, to a lesser extent, collections of writing. Students in these disciplines are performing authentic tasks which capture meaningful application of knowledge and skills. Their portfolios often tell compelling stories of the growth of the students' talents and showcase their skills through a collection of authentic performances. Educators are expanding this story-telling to other disciplines such as physical education, mathematics and the social sciences to capture the variety of demonstrations of meaningful application from students within these disciplines. Furthermore, in the more thoughtful portfolio assignments, students are asked to reflect on their work, to engage in self-assessment and goal-setting. Those are two of the most authentic skills students need to develop to successfully manage in the real world. Research has found that students in classes that emphasize improvement, progress, effort and the process of learning rather than grades and normative performance are more likely to use a variety of learning strategies and have a more positive attitude toward learning. Yet in education we have shortchanged the process of learning in favor of the products of learning. Students are not regularly asked to examine how they succeeded or failed or improved on a task or to set goals for future work; the final product and evaluation of it receives the bulk of the attention in many classrooms. Consequently, students are not developing the metacognitive skills that will enable them to reflect upon and make adjustments in their learning in school and beyond. Portfolios provide an excellent vehicle for consideration of process and the development of related skills. So, portfolios are frequently included with other types of authentic assessments because they move away from telling a student's story though test scores and, instead, focus on a meaningful collection of student performance and meaningful reflection and evaluation of that work.

Why use Portfolios?
The previous section identifies several valuable goals that make portfolios attractive in education. The sections that follow emphasize that identifying specific goals or purposes for assigning a portfolio is the first and most critical step in creating such an assignment. Just as identifying a standard guides the rest of the steps of developing an authentic assessment, identifying the purpose(s) for a portfolio influences all the other decisions involved in producing a portfolio assignment. I will list several of the most common purposes here, and then I will elaborate on how each purpose affects the other decisions in the section below. Purposes Why might you use a portfolio assignment? Portfolios typically are created for one of the following three purposes: to show growth, to showcase current abilities, and to evaluate cumulative achievement. Some examples of such purposes include 1. Growth Portfolios a. to show growth or change over time b. to help develop process skills such as self-evaluation and goal-setting c. to identify strengths and weaknesses

d. to track the development of one more products/performances 2. Showcase Portfolios a. to showcase end-of-year/semester accomplishments b. to prepare a sample of best work for employment or college admission c. to showcase student perceptions of favorite, best or most important work d. to communicate a student's current aptitudes to future teachers 3. Evaluation Portfolios a. to document achievement for grading purposes b. to document progress towards standards c. to place students appropriately The growth portfolio emphasizes the process of learning whereas the showcase portfolio emphasizes the products of learning. Of course, a portfolio may tell more than one story, including more than one category above. For example, a showcase portfolio might also be used for evaluation purposes, and a growth portfolio might also showcase "final" performances or products. What is critical is that the purpose(s) is clear throughout the process to student, teacher and any other pertinent audience. To elaborate on how the purpose affects the portfolio assignment let me answer the question...

How do you Create a Portfolio Assignment?
I think of most tasks as problems to be solved, or questions to be answered. So, I find it useful to approach how to do something by thinking of it as a series of questions to be answered. Thus, I will attempt to offer a possible answer to the question above by answering a series of questions that need to be addressed when considering the design of a portfolio assignment. Those questions are: 1. Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio? 2. Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created? 3. Content: What samples of student work will be included? 4. Process: What processes (e.g., selection of work to be included, reflection on work, conferencing) will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio? 5. Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio? 6. Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences? 7. Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, when and how should it be evaluated?

Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio? As mentioned above, before you can design the portfolio assignment and before your students can begin constructing their portfolios you and your students need to be clear about the story the portfolio will be telling. Certainly, you should not assign a portfolio unless you have a compelling reason to do so. Portfolios take work to create, manage and assess. They can easily feel like busywork and a burden to you and your students if they just become folders filled with student papers. You and your students need to believe that the selection of and reflection upon their work serves one or more meaningful purposes. Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created? Selecting relevant audiences for a portfolio goes hand-in-hand with identifying your purposes. Who should see the evidence of a student's growth? The student, teacher and parents are good audiences to follow the story of a student's progress on a certain project or in the development of certain skills. Who should see a student's best or final work? Again, the student, teacher and parents might be good audiences for such a collection, but other natural audiences come to mind such as class or schoolmates, external audiences such as employers or colleges, the local community or school board. As the teacher, you can dictate what audiences will be considered or you can let students have some choice in the decision. Just as the purposes for the portfolio should guide the development of it, the selection of audiences should shape its construction. For example, for audiences outside the classroom it is helpful to include a cover page or table of contents that helps someone unfamiliar with the assignment to navigate through the portfolio and provide context for what is found inside. Students need to keep their audiences in mind as they proceed through each step of developing their portfolios. A good method for checking whether a portfolio serves the anticipated audiences is to imagine different members of those audiences viewing the portfolio. Can each of them tell why you created the portfolio? Are they able to make sense of the story you wanted to tell them? Can they navigate around and through the portfolio? Do they know why you included what you did? Have you used language suitable for those audiences? Content: What samples of student work will be included? As you can imagine, the answer to the question of content is dependent on the answers to the questions of purpose and audience. What should be included? Well, what story do you want to tell? Before I consider what types of items might be appropriate for different purposes, let me make a more general point. First, hypothetically, there is no limit as to what can be included in a portfolio. Paper products such as essays, homework, letters, projects, etc. are most common. But more and more other types of media are being included in portfolios. Audio and videotapes, cd-roms, two- and three-dimensional pieces of art, posters and anything else that can reflect the purposes identified can be included. Some schools are putting all the artifacts onto a cd-rom by videotaping performances, scanning paper products, and digitizing audio. All of those files are then copied onto a student's cdrom for a semester or a year or to follow the student across grades as a cumulative record. Realistically, you have to decide what is manageable. But if the most meaningful evidence of the portfolio's goals cannot be captured on paper, then you may consider including other types of media. Obviously, there are a considerable number and variety of types of student work that can be selected as samples for a portfolio. Using the purposes given above for each type of portfolio, I have listed just a few such possible samples of work in the following tables that could be included in each type of portfolio.

Growth Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Purpose y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Some possible inclusions
early and later pieces of work early and later tests/scores rough drafts and final drafts reflections on growth goal-setting sheets reflections on progress toward goal(s)

a. to show growth or change over time

samples which reflect growth of process skills self-reflection sheets accompanying samples of work reflection sheets from teacher or peer identification of strengths/weaknesses goal-setting sheets reflections on progress towards goal(s) see more detail below under Process below

b. to help develop process skills

samples of work reflecting specifically identified strengths and weaknesses reflections on strengths and weaknesses of samples goal-setting sheets reflection on progress towards goal(s)

c. to identify strengths/weaknesses

d. to track development of one or more products or performances

y y y

obviously, drafts of the specific product or performance to be tracked self-reflections on drafts reflection sheets from teacher or peer

Showcase Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Purpose a. to showcase end-ofyear/semester accomplishments y y y y y Some possible inclusions
samples of best work samples of earlier and later work to document progress final tests or scores discussion of growth over semester/year awards or other recognition

y y y y y y y y y y y y y

teacher or peer comments

cover letter sample of work reflection on process of creating sample of work reflection on growth teacher or peer comments description of knowledge/skills work indicates

b. to prepare a sample of best work for employment or college admission

samples of student's favorite, best or most important work drafts of that work to illustrate path taken to its final form commentary on strengths/weaknesses of work reflection on why it is favorite, best or most important reflection on what has been learned from work teacher or peer comments

c. to showcase student perceptions of favorite, best or most important

d. to communicate a student's current aptitude

y y y y y

representative sample of current work match of work with standards accomplished self-reflection on current aptitudes teacher reflection on student's aptitudes identification of future goals

Evaluation Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Purpose y y a. to document achievement for grading y y y y y Some possible inclusions
samples of representative work in each subject/unit/topic to be graded samples of work documenting level of achievement on course/grade-level goals/standards/objectives tests/scores rubrics/criteria used for evaluation of work (when applied) self-reflection on how well samples indicate attainment ofcourse/grade-level goals/standards/objectives teacher reflection of attainment of goals/standards identification of strengths/weaknesses

b. to document progress towards standards

y y y y y y

list of applicable goals and standards representative samples of work aligned with respective goals/standards rubrics/criteria used for evaluation of work self-reflection on how well samples indicate attainment ofcourse/grade-level goals/standards/objectives teacher reflection of attainment of goals/standards analysis or evidence of progress made toward standards over course of semester/year

c. to place students appropriately

y y y y y y y y y

representative samples of current work representative samples of earlier work to indicate rate of progress classroom tests/scores external tests/evaluations match of work with standards accomplished self-reflection on current aptitudes teacher reflection on student's aptitudes parent reflection on student's aptitudes other professionals' reflections on student's aptitudes

Other Content In addition to samples of student work and reflection upon that work, a portfolio might also include a table of contents or a cover letter (both typically composed by the student) to aid a reader in making sense of the purposes, processes and contents of the portfolio. This can be particularly useful if the portfolio is to be shared with external audiences unfamiliar with the coursework such as parents, other educators and community members.

Process: What processes will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio? One of the greatest attributes of the portfolio is its potential for focusing on the processes of learning. Too often in education we emphasize the products students create or the outcomes they achieve. But we do not give sufficient attention to the processes required to create those products or outcomes, the processes involved in self-diagnosis and self-improvement, or the metacognitive processes of thinking. As a result, the products or outcomes are not as good as we or the students would like because they are often unsure how to get started, how to self-diagnose or self-correct or how to determine when a piece of work is "finished." Although a variety of processes can be developed or explored through portfolios, I will focus on three of the most common:

y y y

selection of contents of the portfolio; reflection on the samples of work and processes; conferencing about the contents and processes.

Selection of Contents Once again, identifying the purpose(s) for the portfolio should drive the selection process. As listed in the tables above, different samples of student work will likely be selected for different purposes. Additionally, how samples are selected might also differ depending on the purpose. For example, for an evaluation portfolio, the teacher might decide which samples need to be included to evaluate student progress. On the other hand, including the student in the decision-making process of determining appropriate types of samples for inclusion might be more critical for a growth portfolio to promote meaningful reflection. Finally, a showcase portfolio might be designed to include significant input from the student on which samples best highlight achievement and progress, or the teacher might primarily make those decisions. Furthermore, audiences beyond the teacher and student might have input into the content of the porfolio, from team or department members, principals and district committees to external agencies to parents and community members. External audiences are most likely to play a role for evaluation portfolios. However, it is important to remember there are no hard rules about portfolios. Anything can be included in a portfolio. Anyone can be involved in the processes of selection, reflection and evaluation of a portfolio. Flexibility applies to portfolios as it does to any authentic assessment. That is, you should be true to your purpose(s), but you should feel no constraints on how you meet them with a portfolio assignment. How might the selection take place? What I will describe below are just a few of the many possible avenues for selecting which samples will be included in a portfolio. But these examples should give you a good sense of some of the choices and some of the decisions involved. When?

y

y

y

when a sample of work is completed -- at the point a piece of work is ready to be turned in (or once the work has been returned by the teacher) the student or teacher identifies that work for inclusion in the portfolio; at periodic intervals -- instead of selecting samples when they are completed, the samples can be stored so that selection might occur every two (three, six or nine) weeks or once (twice or three times) every quarter (trimester or semester); at the end of the ... unit, quarter, semester, year, etc. By whom?

y

y y y

y

by the student -- students are the most common selectors, particularly for portfolios that ask them to reflect on the work selected. Which work students select depends on the criteria used to choose each piece (see below). by the teacher -- teachers may be the selector, particularly when identifying best pieces of work to showcase a student's strengths or accomplishments. by the student and teacher -- sometimes portfolio selection is a joint process involving conversation and collaboration. by peers -- a student might be assigned a "portfolio partner" or "portfolio buddy" who assists the student in selecting appropriate pieces of work often as part of a joint process involving conversation and collaboration. A peer might also provide some reflection on a piece of work to be included in the portfolio. by parents -- parents might also be asked to select a piece or two for inclusion that they particularly found impressive, surprising, reflective of improvement, etc.

Based on what criteria?

y y

y

y y

y

best work -- selection for showcase portfolios will typically focus on samples of work that illustrate students' best performance in designated areas or the culmination of progress made evidence of growth -- selection for growth portfolios will focus on identifying samples of work and work processes (e.g., drafts, notes) that best capture progress shown on designated tasks, processes or acquisition of knowledge and skills. For example, students might be asked to choose o samples of earlier and later work highlighting some skill or content area o samples of rough drafts and final drafts o work that traces the development of a particular product or performance o samples of work reflecting specifically identified strengths and weaknesses evidence of achievement -- particularly for showcase and evaluation portfolios, selection might focus on samples of work that illustrate current levels of competence in designated areas or particular exemplars of quality work evidence of standards met -- similarly, selection could focus on samples of work that illustrate how successfully students have met certain standards favorite/most important piece -- to help develop recognition of the value of the work completed and to foster pride in that work, selection might focus on samples to which students or parents or others find a connection or with which they are particularly enamored one or more of the above -- a portfolio can include samples of work for multiple reasons and, thus, more than one of the above criteria (or others) could be used for selecting samples to be included

Reflection on Samples of Work Many educators who work with portfolios consider the reflection component the most critical element of a good portfolio. Simply selecting samples of work as described above can produce meaningful stories about students, and others can benefit from "reading" these stories. But the students themselves are missing significant benefits of the portfolio process if they are not asked to reflect upon the quality and growth of their work. As Paulson, Paulson and Meyer (1991) stated, "The portfolio is something that is done by the student, not to the student." Most importantly, it is something done for the student. The student needs to be directly involved in each phase of the portfolio development to learn the most from it, and the reflection phase holds the most promise for promoting student growth. In the reflection phase students are typically asked to

y y y y y y y y y y

comment on why specific samples were selected or comment on what they liked and did not like in the samples or comment on or identify the processes involved in developing specific products or performances or describe and point to examples of how specific skills or knowledge improved (or did not) or identify strengths and weaknesses in samples of work or set goals for themselves corresponding to the strengths and weaknesses or identify strategies for reaching those goals or assess their past and current self-efficacy for a task or skill or complete a checklist or survey about their work or some combination of the above

Reflection sheets Probably the most common portfolio reflection task is the completion of a sheet to be attached to the sample (or samples) of work which the reflection is addressing. The possibilities for reflection questions or prompts are endless, but some examples I have seen include Selection questions/prompts

y y y y

Why did you select this piece? Why should this sample be included in your portfolio? How does this sample meet the criteria for selection for your portfolio? I chose this piece because ....

Growth questions/prompts

y y y y y y y y

What are the strengths of this work? Weaknesses? What would you work on more if you had additional time? How has your ______ (e.g., writing) changed since last year? What do you know about ______ (e.g., the scientific method) that you did not know at the beginning of the year (or semester, etc.)? Looking at (or thinking about) an earlier piece of similar work, how does this new piece of work compare? How is it better or worse? Where can you see progress or improvement? How did you get "stuck" working on this task? How did you get "unstuck"? One skill I could not perform very well but now I can is .... From reviewing this piece I learned ....

Goal-setting questions/prompts

y y y y y

What is one thing you can improve upon in this piece? What is a realistic goal for the end of the quarter (semester, year)? What is one way you will try to improve your ____ (e.g., writing)? One thing I still need to work on is .... I will work toward my goal by ....

Evaluation questions/prompts

y y y y

If you were a teacher and grading your work, what grade would you give it and why? Using the appropriate rubric, give yourself a score and justify it with specific traits from the rubric. What do you like or not like about this piece of work? I like this piece of work because ....

Effort questions/prompts

y y y

How much time did you spend on this product/performance? The work would have been better if I had spent more time on .... I am pleased that I put significant effort into ....

Overall portfolio questions/prompts

y y y

What would you like your _____ (e.g., parents) to know about or see in your portfolio? What does the portfolio as a whole reveal about you as a learner (writer, thinker, etc.)? A feature of this portfolio I particularly like is ....

y

In this portfolio I see evidence of ....

As mentioned above, students (or others) can respond to such questions or prompts when a piece of work is completed, while a work is in progress or at periodic intervals after the work has been collected. Furthermore, these questions or prompts can be answered by the student, the teacher, parents, peers or anyone else in any combination that best serves the purposes of the portfolio. Other reflection methods In addition to reflection sheets, teachers have devised a myriad of means of inducing reflection from students and others about the collection of work included in the portfolio. For example, those engaging in reflection can

y y y y y

write a letter to a specific audience about the story the portfolio communicates write a "biography" of a piece of work tracing its development and the learning that resulted write periodic journal entries about the progress of the portfolio compose an imaginary new "chapter" that picks up where the story of the portfolio leaves off orally share reflections on any of the above questions/prompts Reflection as a process skill

Good skill development requires four steps:

y y y y

Instruction and modeling of the skill; Practice of the skill; Feedback on one's practice; Reflection on the practice and feedback.

Reflection itself is a skill that enhances the process of skill development and virtually all learning in innumerable settings. Those of us who are educators, for example, need to continually reflect upon what is working or not working in our teaching, how we can improve what we are doing, how we can help our students make connections to what they are learning, and much, much more. Thus, it is critical for students to learn to effectively reflect upon their learning and growth. As a skill, reflection is not something that can be mastered in one or two attempts. Developing good reflective skills requires instruction and modeling, lots of practice, feedback and reflection. As many of you have probably encountered, when students are first asked to respond to prompts such as "I selected this piece because..." they may respond with "I think it is nice." Okay, that's a start. But we would like them to elaborate on that response. The fact that they did not initially elaborate is probably not just a result of resistance or reluctance. Students need to learn how to respond to such prompts. They need to learn how to effectively identify strengths and weaknesses, to set realistic goals for themselves and their work, and to develop meaningful strategies to address those goals. Students often have become dependent upon adults, particularly teachers, to evaluate their work. They need to learn self-assessment. So, the reflection phase of the portfolio process should be ongoing throughout the portfolio development. Students need to engage in multiple reflective activities. Those instances of reflection become particularly focused if goal-setting is part of their reflection. Just as instruction and assessment are more appropriately targeted if they are tied to specific standards or goals, student identification of and reflection upon strengths and weaknesses, examples of progress, and strategies for improvement will be more meaningful and purposeful if they are directed toward specific goals, particularly self-chosen goals.

Once opportunities for reflection (practice) take place, feedback to and further reflection upon student observations can be provided by conversations with others. Conferencing is one tool to promote such feedback and reflection.

Conferencing on Student Work and Processes With 20 or 30 or more students in a classroom, one-on-one conversations between the teacher and student are difficult to regularly arrange. That is unfortunate because the give and take of face-to-face interaction can provide the teacher with valuable information about the student's thinking and progress and provide the student with meaningful feedback. Such feedback is also more likely to be processed by the student than comments written on paper. Conferencing typically takes several forms:

y

y

y

teacher/student -- sometimes teachers are able to informally meet with a few students, one at a time, as the other students work on some task in class. Other times, teachers use class time to schedule one-on-one conferences during "conference days." Some teachers are able to schedule conferences outside of class time. Typically such conferences take only a few minutes, but they give the teacher and the student time to recap progress, ask questions, and consider suggestions or strategies for improvement. teacher/small group -- other teachers, often in composition classes, meet with a few students at a time to discuss issues and questions that are raised, sharing common problems and reflections across students. student/student -- to conserve time as well as to give students the opportunity to learn how to provide feedback along with receiving it, teachers sometimes structure peer-to-peer conferencing. The focus might be teacher-directed (e.g., "share with each other a sample of work you recently selected for your portfolio") or student-directed (e.g., students use the time to get feedback on some work for a purpose they determine).

Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio? As appealing as the process of students developing a portfolio can be, the physical and time constraints of such a process can be daunting. Where do you keep all the stuff? How do you keep track of it? Who gets access to it and when? Should you manage paper or create an electronic portfolio? Does some work get sent home before it is put in the portfolio? Will it come back? When will you find the time for students to participate, to reflect, to conference? What about students who join your class in the middle of the semester or year? There is one answer to all these questions that can make the task less daunting: start small! That is good advice for many endeavors, but particularly for portfolios because there are so many factors to consider, develop and manage over a long period of time. In the final section of this chapter (Can I do portfolios without all the fuss?) I will elaborate on how you can get your feet wet with portfolios and avoid drowning in the many decisions described below. How you answer the many management questions below depends, in part, on how you answered earlier questions about your purpose, audience, content and process. Return to those answers to help you address the following decisions:

Management Decisions Should the portfolio building process wait until the end or should it occur as you go? y y

Possible Solutions
The easiest solution is to collect work samples along the way but save the selection and reflection until the end, keeping selection simple and limiting the amount of reflection. The more involved (and more common) approach is for participants

to periodically make selections and to engage in reflection throughout the process. This gives the student time to respond to identified weaknesses and to address goals set.

y

Paper Portfolio: As you know, the most common form of portfolios is a collection of paper products such as essays, problem sets, journal entries, posters, etc. Most products produced in classrooms are still in paper form, so it makes sense to find ways to collect, select from and reflect upon these items. Hybrid Portfolio: Other forms of products are increasingly available, however, so teachers are adding videotapes, audiotapes, 3-D models, artwork and more to the containers holding the paper products. Electronic Portfolio: Since many of the paper products are now first created in an electronic format, it makes sense to consider keeping some samples of work in that format. Storage is much easier and portability is significantly increased. Additionally, as it becomes easier to digitize almost any media it is possible to add audio and video examples of student work to the electronic portfolio. A considerable amount of work can be burned to a CD or DVD or displayed on a website. An electronic compilation can be shared with a larger audience and more easily follow a student to other grades, teachers and schools. Copies can be made and kept.

y Will the portfolios be composed of paper or stored electronically (or both)? y

Obviously, the answer to this question depends on your answer to the previous question about storage format. The possible solutions I describe below will assume that you have chosen an option that includes at least some paper products. A common model for portfolio maintenance is to have two folders for each student -- a working folder and a portfolio folder. As work samples are produced they are stored in the working folder. Students (or other selectors) would periodically review the working folder to select certain pieces to be included in the portfolio folder. Usually reflection accompanies the selection process. For example, a reflection sheet may be attached to each piece before it is placed in the portfolio. In addition to manilla or hanging folders, portfolio contents have also been stored in pizza or laundry detergent boxes, cabinets, binders and accordian folders (Rolheiser, Bower & Stevahn, 2000). For older students, some teachers have the students keep the work samples. Then they are periodically asked to select from and reflect upon the work. Students might only keep the working folders while the teacher manages the portfolio folders. As a parent, I know I also would like to look at my child's work before the end of the semester or year. So, some teachers send work home in carefully structured folders. One side of a two-pocket folder might be labeled "keep at home" while the other side might be labeled "return to school." The work likely to end up in the portfolio would be sent home in the "return to school" pocket.

y

Where will the work samples and reflections be kept?

y y

y

y y Who will be responsible for saving/storing them?

Typically the teacher keep the contents of the portfolio as they are usually stored in the classroom. Older students (and sometimes younger ones) are also given the responsibility of managing their portfolios in the classroom, making sure all samples make it into the appropriate folders/containers, remain there, are put back when removed, and are kept neatly organized. As mentioned above, older students sometimes are required to keep track of their work outside the classroom, bringing it to class on certain days for reflection and other tasks. For electronic portfolios, it usually depends on teacher preference and whether or not students have access to storage space on the network or can save samples locally, or burn them to CDs or DVD, or add

y y

them to websites.

Who? Again, that depends on the purposes for the portfolio.

y y y y Who will have access to it, and when? y
When?

Usually the teacher and student will have access to the working folder or the final samples. But, for some types of showcase portfolios, only the teacher might have access because she is constructing the portfolio about the student. For older students, the teacher might only have limited access as the student controls the portfolio's development. Parents might have access and input as samples of work are sent home. Other educators might also have access to final portfolios for larger evaluative purposes.

y y

Typically, students and teachers contribute samples to a working folder as they are created. Access to a portfolio folder is gained on a more regular schedule as times for selection and reflection are scheduled. Parents or other educators might have access at certain intervals depending on the purpose of the portfolio and the process that has been chosen.

y

How will portfolio progress be tracked?

A checklist sheet is sometimes attached to the front of a folder so that the teacher or the student can keep track of when and which samples have been added, which have been removed (temporarily or permanently), when reflections have been completed, when conferences have taken place, and whether or not any other requirements have been completed. The teacher might just keep a schedule of when selections, reflections or conferences are to take place. Older students might be required to keep track of the process to make sure all requirements are met.

y y

Once again, this depends on the purposes and audiences for the portfolio, as well as the type of contents to be included. Showcase portfolios will typically have a more formal and polished presentation. A cover letter or introduction along with a table of contents might be included to provide context for a potentially wide range of readers, and to give the student or teacher a chance to more fully flesh out the student's story. Growth or evaluation portfolios might have a less formal presentation, unless the evaluation is part of a high stakes assessment. If the student and teacher are the primary readers, less context is needed. However, if parents are the primary or a significant intended audience, more explanation or context will be needed.

y What will the final product look like? y

y

What if students join your class in the middle of the process?

Obviously, one advantage of choosing to build the portfolio at the end of a period of time rather than build it along the way (see the first question) is that transient students can still easily participate. They have less work to consider, but they can still engage in the selection and reflection process. If selection and reflection occur as work is being produced, the new student can simply join the process in progress. Some adaptation will likely be necessary, but the student can still demonstrate growth or competence over a shorter period of time. If the portfolio is also to be evaluated, further adjustment will need to

y

y

be made.

Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences? Why share the portfolio? By the nature of the purposes of portfolios -- to show growth, to showcase excellence -- portfolios are meant to be shared. The samples, reflections and other contents allow or invite others to observe and celebrate students' progress and accomplishments. A portfolio should tell a story, and that story should be told. Students should primarily be the ones telling their stories. As students reflect on the balance of their work over some period of time, there is often a great sense of pride at the growth and the accomplishment. By telling their own stories students can take ownership of the process that led to the growth and achievement. Assessment is no longer something done to them; the students are playing an active role through self-assessment. Furthermore, others will be able to recognize and celebrate in the growth and accomplishment of the students if their work is communicated beyond the borders of the classroom. A portfolio provides a unique vehicle for capturing and communicating student learning. Parents tend to learn more about their children's abilities and propensities through a portfolio than they do through the odd assignment that makes it home and into the parents' hands. Moreover, other interested members of the school and local community can recognize and celebrate the accomplishment. Finally, the portfolio can provide an excellent tool for accountability. Parents, educators and community members can learn a great deal about what is happening in a classroom or school or district by viewing and hearing about the contents of these stories. Perhaps more importantly, the student and teacher can uncover a vivid picture of where the student was, where she has traveled to, how she got there and what she accomplished along the way -- a fascinating and enlightening story. Considering the audience Of course, deciding how to tell the story will be influenced by the intended audience. For example, presenting a collection of work to a teacher who is already familiar with much of the content will likely require a different approach than presenting that work as part of a college application. Audiences within the classroom In some classrooms, a portfolio is used much like other assignments as evidence of progress towards or completion of course or grade level goals and standards. In such cases, the only audience might be the teacher who evaluates all the student work. To effectively communicate with the teacher about a body of work, the student may be asked to write a brief introduction or overview capturing her perceptions of the progress (for a growth portfolio) or accomplishments (for a showcase portfolio) reflected in the collection of work. Teachers who assign portfolios not only want to see student work but want to see students reflect upon it. As a classroom assessor, the teacher also has the benefit of communicating face-to-face with each student. Such conferences take a variety of forms and vary in their frequency. For example,

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A teacher might review a portfolio at one or more intervals, and then prepare questions for the face-to-face conversation with each student;

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A student might run the conference by taking the teacher through her portfolio, highlighting elements consistent with the purpose of the portfolio; A "pre-conference" might occur in which teacher and student discuss how the portfolio should be constructed to best showcase it or best prepare it for evaluation.

Additionally, classmates can serve as an audience for a portfolio. Particulary for older students, some teachers require or encourage students to present their portfolios to each other for feedback, dialogue and modeling. For example,

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Pairs of students can review each other's work to provide feedback, identify strengths and weaknesses, and suggest future goals; Sharing with each other also provides an opportunity to tell a story or just brag; Students can always benefit from seeing good (or poor) models of work as well as models of meaningful reflection and goal-setting.

As students hear themselves tell each other about the value and meaning of their work it will become more valuable and meaningful to them. Audiences within the family and school community As many of us have experienced with our own children, parents sometimes only receive a small, fragmented picture of their children's school work. Some work never makes it home, some is lost, some is hidden, etc. It can be even harder for parents to construct a coherent picture out of that work to get a real sense of student growth or accomplishment or progress toward a set of standards. Portfolios provide an opportunity to give parents a fuller glimpse of the processes and products and progress of their children's learning. Many teachers intentionally involve the parents in the development of the portfolio or make parents an audience or both. For example, to involve parents in the process,

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y

teachers make sure parents view most student work on a consistent basis; for example, o some teachers require students to get much of their work signed by parents to be returned to school; o some teachers send work home in a two-pocket folder in which one pocket contains work that can stay home and the other pocket contains work that can be viewed by parents but should be returned to school, each pocket carefully labeled as such; o some teachers use a three-pocket folder in which the third pocket is a place parents can pass along notes or comments or questions; teachers also invite parents to provide feedback or ask questions about student work; for example, o a reflection sheet, perhaps similar to the ones students complete, can be attached to some of the pieces of work sent home inviting parents to make comments, ask questions or provide evaluation; o parents might be invited to provide a summary reflection of work they have seen so far; o or simply identify one or two pieces of work or aspects of their children's work that they most like or are most surprised about.

To share the portfolio with parents,

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many schools host Portfolio Nights, at which students often guide their parent or parents through the story of their work. Having the Night at school allows the student to more easily share the variety of two- and three-dimensional work they have created.

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after teacher evaluation of the portfolio (if that is done), the complete portfolio might be sent home for the parents to view and possibly respond to. This might occur once at the end of the process or periodically along the way.

A Portfolio Night also provides an opportunity for other members of the school or larger community to view student portfolios. The portfolios may simply be on display to be sampled, or students might guide other audiences through their work. Similarly, during the school day students can share their portfolios with students from other classes or with school personnel. Audiences beyond the classroom, school and family An external audience for student work can serve to motivate students to give more attention to and take more seriously their performance. First, it may give more legitimacy to assigned work. If the work is to be externally reviewed, it suggests that it is not simply "busy work" that provides a grade but that it is something authentic valued outside the walls of the classroom. Second, some students may take more care in their work when they believe a new, different, and perhaps expert audience will be viewing it. To extend the audience beyond the classroom, school and family, teachers have adopted a variety of approaches, including

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expanding the audience at Portfolio Nights to include a larger community, perhaps even authors, or scientists or other professionals relevant to the work in the portfolio; inviting professionals or experts in a particular field to come listen to presentations of the portfolios; inviting professionals or experts to serve as one of the reviewers or evaluators of the portfolios; encourage or require students to share their work with a larger audience through the Web or other media. Publishing on the Web also allows students to solicit comments or questions. Preparing the student to share

Just as we do not expect children to write or speak well without considerable instruction and practice, it is not reasonable to expect students to effortlessly and effectively share their stories without some help. Teachers have devised a number of strategies to prepare students to communicate with the target audience. Some such strategies include

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y

pairing up students in class ("portfolio partners") to practice presenting their work to each other; pairing up the author of the portfolio with an older student a few grades above. The younger student would practice presenting her work as if she is presenting it to the intended audience (e.g., parents at a Portfolio Night). Both students can benefit as the older student provides feedback and encouragement and may increase her own self-efficacy for the task through modeling and tutoring the younger student. providing models. Teachers provide models of good portfolios that illustrate how the product itself can effectively communicate with an audience through the way it is constructed. Teachers can also model the process of communication by walking through how he or she would share a portfolio with a specific audience.

Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, how and when should it be evaluated? As with all of the elements of portfolios described above, how and when evaluation is addressed varies widely across teachers, schools and districts. Take, for example, « Evaluation vs. Grading Evaluation refers to the act of making a judgment about something. Grading takes that process one step further by assigning a grade to that judgment. Evaluation may be sufficient for a portfolio assignment. What is (are) the purpose(s) of the portfolio? If the purpose is to demonstrate growth, the teacher could make judgments about the evidence of progress and provide those judgments as feedback to the student or make note of them for her own records. Similarly, the student could selfassess progress shown or not shown, goals met or not met. No grade needs to be assigned. On a larger scale, an evaluation of the contents within the portfolio or of the entire package may be conducted by external bodies (e.g., community members, other educators, state boards) for the purpose of judging completion of certain standards or requirements. Although the evaluation is serious, and graduation might even hinge on it, no classroom grade may be assigned. On the other hand, the work within the portfolio and the process of assembling and reflecting upon the portfolio may comprise such a significant portion of a student's work in a grade or class that the teacher deems it appropriate to assign a value to it and incorporate it into the student's final grade. Alternatively, some teachers assign grades because they believe without grades there would not be sufficient incentive for some students to complete the portfolio. Ahh, but « What to Grade Nothing. Some teachers choose not to grade the portfolio because they have already assigned grades to the contents selected for inclusion. The metacognitive and organizational elements. But the portfolio is more than just a collection of student work. Depending on its purpose, students might have also included reflections on growth, on strengths and weaknesses, on goals that were or are to be set, on why certain samples tell a certain story about them, or on why the contents reflect sufficient progress to indicate completion of designated standards. Some of the process skills may also be part of the teacher's or school's or district's standards. So, the portfolio provides some evidence of attainment of those standards. Any or all of these elements can be evaluated and/or graded. Completion. Some portfolios are graded simply on whether or not the portfolio was completed. Everything. Other teachers evaluate the entire package: the selected samples of student work as well as the reflection, organization and presentation of the portfolio. How to Grade/Evaluate Most of the portfolio assignments I have seen have been evaluated or graded with a rubric. A great deal of personal judgment goes into evaluating a complex product such as a portfolio. Thus, applying a rubric, a tool which can provide some clarity and consistency to the evaluation of such products, to the judgment of quality of the story being told and the elements making up that story makes sense. Moreover, if the portfolio is to be evaluated my multiple judges, application of a rubric increases the likelihood of consistency among the judges.

Examples of Portfolio Rubrics What might a portfolio rubric look like? If the focus of the grading is primarily on whether the samples of student work within the portfolio demonstrate certain competencies, the criteria within the rubric will target those competencies. For example, Evaluating competencies

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Electrical and computer engineering portfolio rubric

Or, Completing requirements

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Sophomore honors program portfolio rubric - to gain admission

Meeting standards

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State of Idaho portfolio rubric

Evaluating metacognitive and organizational elements only

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12th grade writing portfolio rubric

Evaluating the portfolio as a whole

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Portfolio rubric - very global criteria Senior exit portfolio rubric - very detailed criteria Electronic portfolio rubric Electronic portfolio rubric - very detailed criteria

Who evaluates The more we can involve students in the assessment process, the more likely they will take ownership of it, be engaged in it, and find it worthwhile. So, it makes sense to involve students in the evaluation process of their portfolios as well. They have likely engaged in some self-assessment in the reflection or goal-setting components of the portfolio. Additionally, students are capable of evaluating how well their portfolio elements meet standards, requirements, or competencies, for their own portfolios or those of their peers. Furthermore, older peers could make excellent judges of the work of younger students. Cross-grade peer tutoring has demonstrated how well the older and younger students respond to such interactions. Obviously, the classroom teacher, other educators, review board members, community members, etc. can all serve as judges of student work. If multiple judges are used, particularly if they are not directly familiar with the student work or assignments, training on a rubric should be provided before evaluation proceeds. The evaluators should be familiar with and clear on the criteria and the levels of performance within the rubric. A calibration session, in which the judges evaluate some sample portfolios and then share ratings to reach some consensus on what each criteria and level of performance within the rubric means, can provide a good opportunity for judges to achieve some competence and consistency in applying a rubric.

Can I do Portfolios Without all the Fuss?
Oh, what fun would that be! Actually, the answer is a qualified "yes." Portfolios do typically require considerable work, particularly if conferencing is involved. But with most anything, including assessment, I recommend that you start small. Here's a quick, easy way to get started if any of the above thoughts has either encouraged you or not discouraged you from considering assigning portfolios in your little world. The following describes just one possible way to get started. Step 1. Depending on the age of your students and other considerations, have students select two pieces of their work over the course of a quarter (or three or four over a semester). Decide (with your students or without) upon one or more criteria by which the selection will be guided (e.g., their best work). To limit management time, don't wait for the end of the quarter for students to make those selections. Otherwise, all their work will have to be collected along the way. Instead, if you want to keep it simple, tell your students ahead of time that they will be selecting two or more pieces matching certain criteria, and that you will ask them to do it at the point each sample is completed. Step 2. At the time a student selects a sample to be included in his portfolio, require the student to complete a brief reflection sheet and attach it to the sample. Step 3. Depending on the age of your students, ask your student to save that sample and the attached reflection sheet until the end of the quarter or semester, or collect it and store it yourself at that point. Step 4. At the end of the quarter or semester, ask your students to reflect upon the samples one additional time by describing what they liked best about their work, or by identifying strengths and weaknesses, or by setting one or two goals for the future. There, that wasn't too painful. Okay, you ask, that was relatively simple, but did it really accomplish anything? Good question. If you don't think so, don't do it. On the other hand, it could possibly have a few benefits worth the effort. First, if nothing else it gave you some experience working with portfolios. If you want to pursue portfolios in a more elaborate manner, at least you are now more familiar with some of the issues involved. Second, if you think developing self-assessment skills in your students is a worthwhile goal, you have also begun that process. Even a little reflection on your students' part may be more than some of them typically give to their work. Finally, you may have opened, even if it is just a little bit, a new avenue for you and your students to communicate with their parents about their performance, their strengths and weaknesses, and their habits. Any of those reasons may be sufficient to try your hand at portfolios. Good luck!

Mueller's* Glossary
of Authentic Assessment Terms

* I have tried to present definitions below that are consistent with the common use of these terms. However, because some terms do not have commonly agreed upon definitions and because, in a few cases, I think certain definitions make more sense, I am calling this Mueller's Glossary. Use at your own risk.
Analytic Rubric: An analytic rubric articulates levels of performance for each criterion so the teacher can assess student performance on each criterion. (For examples and a fuller discussion, go to Rubrics.)

Authentic Assessment: A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Student performance on a task is typically scored on a rubric to determine how successfully the student has met specific standards. Some educators choose to distinguish between authentic assessment and performance assessment. For these educators, performance assessment meets the above definition except that the tasks do not reflect real-world (authentic) challenges. If we are going to ask students to construct knowledge on assessments, then virtually all such tasks should be authentic in nature or they lose some relevance to the students. Thus, for me, this distinction between performance and authentic assessments becomes insignificant and unnecessary. Consequently, I use authentic assessment and performance assessment synonymously. (For a fuller discussion of the different terms used to describe this form of assessment and its distinction from "traditional" or forced-choice assessment, go to What is Authentic Assessment?) Authentic Task: An assignment given to students designed to assess their ability to apply standards-driven knowledge and skills to real-world challenges. A task is considered authentic when 1) students are asked to construct their own responses rather than to select from ones presented; and 2) the task replicates challenges faced in the real world. Good performance on the task should demonstrate, or partly demonstrate, successful completion of one or more standards. The term task is often used synonymously with the term assessment in the field of authentic assessment. (For a fuller description of authentic tasks and for examples, go to Authentic Tasks.) Content Standards: Statements that describe what students should know or be able to do within the content of a specific discipline or at the intersection of two or more disciplines (e.g., students will describe effects of physical activity on the body). Contrast with Process Standards and Value Standards. Criteria: Characteristics of good performance on a particular task. For example, criteria for a persuasive essay might include well organized, clearly stated, and sufficient support for arguments. (The singular of criteria is criterion. For a fuller description of criteria and for examples, go to Identifying the Criteria for the Task.) Descriptors: Statements of expected performance at each level of performance for a particular criterion in a rubric - typically found in analytic rubrics. See example and further discussion of descriptors. Distractors: The incorrect alternatives or choices in a selected response item. (For more see terminology for multiple-choice items.) Goal: In the field of student assessment, a goal is a very broad statement of what students should know or be able to do. Unlike a standard or an objective, a goal is often not written in language that is amenable to assessment. Rather, the purpose for crafting a set of goals typically is to give a brief and broad picture of what a school, district, state, etc. expects its students will know and be able to do upon graduation. (For a fuller description of the distinction between these types of statements and for examples of each, go to Standards.) Holistic Rubric: In contrast to an analytic rubric, a holistic rubric does not list separate levels of performance for each criterion. Instead, a holistic rubric assigns a level of performance by assessing performance across multiple criteria as a whole. (For examples and a fuller discussion, go to Rubrics.) Objective: Much like a goal or standard, an objective is a statement of what students should know and be able to do. Typically, an objective is the most narrow of these statements, usually describing what a student should know or be able to do at the end of a specific lesson plan. Like a standard, an objective is amenable to assessment, that is, it is observable and measurable. (For a fuller description

of the distinction between these types of goal statements and for examples of each, go to Standards.) Outcome: See Standard. Preceding the current standards-based movement was a drive for outcomebased education. The term standard has replaced the term outcome with much the same meaning. Performance Assessment: See Authentic Assessment above. I use these terms synonymously. Portfolio: A collection of a student's work specifically selected to tell a particular story about the student. See Portfolios for more details. Process Standards: Statements that describe skills students should develop to enhance the process of learning. Process standards are not specific to a particular discipline, but are generic skills that are applicable to any discipline (e.g., students will find and evaluate relevant information). Contrast with Content Standards and Value Standards. Reliability: The degree to which a measure yields consistent results. Rubric: A scoring scale used to evaluate student work. A rubric is composed of at least two criteria by which student work is to be judged on a particular task and at least two levels of performance for each criterion. (For a fuller description of rubrics, their different variations, and to see examples, go to Rubrics. Also, see Analytic Rubrics; Holistic Rubrics.) Standard: Much like a goal or objective, a standard is a statement of what students should know or be able to do. I distinguish between a standard and these other goal statements by indicating that a standard is broader than an objective, but more narrow than a goal. Like an objective and unlike a goal, a standard is amenable to assessment, that is, it is observable and measurable. (For a fuller description of the distinction between these types of goal statements and for examples of each, click standards. Also, see Content Standards; Process Standards; Value Standards.) (Actually, I prefer the way we previously used the term standard: "A description of what a student is expected to attain in order to meet a specified educational intent (such as a learning outcome or objective). The description may be qualitative and/or quantitative and may vary in level of specificity, depending on its purpose" (Assessment Handbook, Illinois State Board of Education, 1995). In other words, an outcome would describe what students should know and be able to do, and the standard described the particular level of accomplishment on that outcome that you expected most students to meet. That was your standard. We no longer commonly use that definition of standard in assessment.) Stem: A question or statement followed by a number of choices or alternatives that answer or complete the question or statement. (Stems are most commonly found in multiple-choice questions. See terminology for multiple-choice items.) Validity: "The degree to which a certain inference from a test is appropriate and meaningful" (AERA, APA, & NCME, 1985). For example, if I measure the circumference of your head to determine your level of intelligence, my measurement might be accurate. However, it would be inappropriate for me to draw a conclusion about your level of intelligence. Such an inference would be invalid. Value Standards: Statements that describe attitudes teachers would like students to develop towards learning (e.g., students will value diversity of opinions or perspectives). Contrast with Content Standards and Process Standards.

Types of Standards

I distinguish between three types of standards:

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content standards process standards value standards

Note: As with many of the authentic assessment terms, there is not a consistent set of labels for the different types of standards. These are labels I find useful.

Content Standards
I define content standards as statements that describe what students should know or be able to do within the content of a specific discipline or at the intersection of two or more disciplines. Examples would include Students will classify objects along two dimensions. Describe effects of physical activity on the body. Present employment-related information in the target language.

Process Standards
I define process standards as statements that describe skills students should develop to enhance the process of learning. Process standards are not specific to a particular discipline, but are generic skills that are applicable to any discipline. Examples would include Students will set realistic goals for their performance. Seriously consider the ideas of others. Find and evaluate relevant information.

Value Standards
I define value standards as statements that describe attitudes teachers would like students to develop towards learning. Examples would include Students will value diversity of opinions or perspectives. Take responsible risks. (Costa & Kallick) Persist on challenging tasks.

Is it a Content or a Process Standard?
Given the definitions listed above, the same standard could be either a content or a process standard. For example, the standard students will write a coherent essay would be a process standard in a history course because it is not describing content within the discipline of history. Rather, it describes a useful skill that historians should have along with those working in other disciplines. However, if the same standard were part of an English composition course, I would label it a content standard because students would be learning the content of that discipline. Yes, writing skills are useful in any discipline, but in the composition course it is being taught as content for the course.

Portfolios

What is a Portfolio?

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re Portfolios Authentic Assessments?

Why use Portfolios? How do you Create a Portfolio Assignment?

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Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio? Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created? Content: What samples of student work will be included? Process: What processes will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio? o Selection of Contents o Reflection on Samples of Work o Conferencing on Student Work and Processes Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio? Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences? Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, how and when should it be evaluated?

Can I do Portfolios Without all the Fuss? Portfolio: A collection of a student's work specifically selected to tell a particular story about the student

What is a Portfolio?
Note: My focus will be on portfolios of student work rather than teacher portfolios or other types. Student portfolios take many forms, as discussed below, so it is not easy to describe them. A portfolio is not the pile of student work that accumulates over a semester or year. Rather, a portfolio contains a purposefully selected subset of student work. "Purposefully" selecting student work means deciding what type of story you want the portfolio to tell. For example, do you want it to highlight or celebrate the progress a student has made? Then, the portfolio might contain samples of earlier and later work, often with the student commenting upon or assessing the growth. Do you want the portfolio to capture the process of learning and growth? Then, the student and/or teacher might select items that illustrate the development of one or more skills with reflection upon the process that led to that development. Or, do you want the portfolio to showcase the final products or best work of a student? In that case, the portfolio would likely contain samples that best exemplify the student's current ability

to apply relevant knowledge and skills. All decisions about a portfolio assignment begin with the type of story or purpose for the portfolio. The particular purpose(s) served, the number and type of items included, the process for selecting the items to be included, how and whether students respond to the items selected, and other decisions vary from portfolio to portfolio and serve to define what each portfolio looks like. I will describe many of the purposes and characteristics in the sections below. Are Portfolios Authentic Assessments? Some suggest that portfolios are not really assessments at all because they are just collections of previously completed assessments. But, if we consider assessing as gathering of information about someone or something for a purpose, then a portfolio is a type of assessment. Sometimes the portfolio is also evaluated or graded, but that is not necessary to be considered an assessment. Are portfolios authentic assessments? Student portfolios have most commonly been associated with collections of artwork and, to a lesser extent, collections of writing. Students in these disciplines are performing authentic tasks which capture meaningful application of knowledge and skills. Their portfolios often tell compelling stories of the growth of the students' talents and showcase their skills through a collection of authentic performances. Educators are expanding this story-telling to other disciplines such as physical education, mathematics and the social sciences to capture the variety of demonstrations of meaningful application from students within these disciplines. Furthermore, in the more thoughtful portfolio assignments, students are asked to reflect on their work, to engage in self-assessment and goal-setting. Those are two of the most authentic skills students need to develop to successfully manage in the real world. Research has found that students in classes that emphasize improvement, progress, effort and the process of learning rather than grades and normative performance are more likely to use a variety of learning strategies and have a more positive attitude toward learning. Yet in education we have shortchanged the process of learning in favor of the products of learning. Students are not regularly asked to examine how they succeeded or failed or improved on a task or to set goals for future work; the final product and evaluation of it receives the bulk of the attention in many classrooms. Consequently, students are not developing the metacognitive skills that will enable them to reflect upon and make adjustments in their learning in school and beyond. Portfolios provide an excellent vehicle for consideration of process and the development of related skills. So, portfolios are frequently included with other types of authentic assessments because they move away from telling a student's story though test scores and, instead, focus on a meaningful collection of student performance and meaningful reflection and evaluation of that work.

Why use Portfolios?
The previous section identifies several valuable goals that make portfolios attractive in education. The sections that follow emphasize that identifying specific goals or purposes for assigning a portfolio is the first and most critical step in creating such an assignment. Just as identifying a standard guides the rest of the steps of developing an authentic assessment, identifying the purpose(s) for a portfolio influences all the other decisions involved in producing a portfolio assignment. I will list several of the most common purposes here, and then I will elaborate on how each purpose affects the other decisions in the section below. Purposes Why might you use a portfolio assignment? Portfolios typically are created for one of the following three purposes: to show growth, to showcase current abilities, and to evaluate cumulative achievement. Some examples of such purposes include

1. Growth Portfolios a. to show growth or change over time b. to help develop process skills such as self-evaluation and goal-setting c. to identify strengths and weaknesses d. to track the development of one more products/performances 2. Showcase Portfolios a. to showcase end-of-year/semester accomplishments b. to prepare a sample of best work for employment or college admission c. to showcase student perceptions of favorite, best or most important work d. to communicate a student's current aptitudes to future teachers 3. Evaluation Portfolios a. to document achievement for grading purposes b. to document progress towards standards c. to place students appropriately The growth portfolio emphasizes the process of learning whereas the showcase portfolio emphasizes the products of learning. Of course, a portfolio may tell more than one story, including more than one category above. For example, a showcase portfolio might also be used for evaluation purposes, and a growth portfolio might also showcase "final" performances or products. What is critical is that the purpose(s) is clear throughout the process to student, teacher and any other pertinent audience. To elaborate on how the purpose affects the portfolio assignment let me answer the question...

How do you Create a Portfolio Assignment?
I think of most tasks as problems to be solved, or questions to be answered. So, I find it useful to approach how to do something by thinking of it as a series of questions to be answered. Thus, I will attempt to offer a possible answer to the question above by answering a series of questions that need to be addressed when considering the design of a portfolio assignment. Those questions are: 1. Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio? 2. Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created? 3. Content: What samples of student work will be included? 4. Process: What processes (e.g., selection of work to be included, reflection on work, conferencing) will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio? 5. Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio?

6. Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences? 7. Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, when and how should it be evaluated? Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio? As mentioned above, before you can design the portfolio assignment and before your students can begin constructing their portfolios you and your students need to be clear about the story the portfolio will be telling. Certainly, you should not assign a portfolio unless you have a compelling reason to do so. Portfolios take work to create, manage and assess. They can easily feel like busywork and a burden to you and your students if they just become folders filled with student papers. You and your students need to believe that the selection of and reflection upon their work serves one or more meaningful purposes. Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created? Selecting relevant audiences for a portfolio goes hand-in-hand with identifying your purposes. Who should see the evidence of a student's growth? The student, teacher and parents are good audiences to follow the story of a student's progress on a certain project or in the development of certain skills. Who should see a student's best or final work? Again, the student, teacher and parents might be good audiences for such a collection, but other natural audiences come to mind such as class or schoolmates, external audiences such as employers or colleges, the local community or school board. As the teacher, you can dictate what audiences will be considered or you can let students have some choice in the decision. Just as the purposes for the portfolio should guide the development of it, the selection of audiences should shape its construction. For example, for audiences outside the classroom it is helpful to include a cover page or table of contents that helps someone unfamiliar with the assignment to navigate through the portfolio and provide context for what is found inside. Students need to keep their audiences in mind as they proceed through each step of developing their portfolios. A good method for checking whether a portfolio serves the anticipated audiences is to imagine different members of those audiences viewing the portfolio. Can each of them tell why you created the portfolio? Are they able to make sense of the story you wanted to tell them? Can they navigate around and through the portfolio? Do they know why you included what you did? Have you used language suitable for those audiences? Content: What samples of student work will be included? As you can imagine, the answer to the question of content is dependent on the answers to the questions of purpose and audience. What should be included? Well, what story do you want to tell? Before I consider what types of items might be appropriate for different purposes, let me make a more general point. First, hypothetically, there is no limit as to what can be included in a portfolio. Paper products such as essays, homework, letters, projects, etc. are most common. But more and more other types of media are being included in portfolios. Audio and videotapes, cd-roms, two- and three-dimensional pieces of art, posters and anything else that can reflect the purposes identified can be included. Some schools are putting all the artifacts onto a cd-rom by videotaping performances, scanning paper products, and digitizing audio. All of those files are then copied onto a student's cdrom for a semester or a year or to follow the student across grades as a cumulative record. Realistically, you have to decide what is manageable. But if the most meaningful evidence of the portfolio's goals cannot be captured on paper, then you may consider including other types of media. Obviously, there are a considerable number and variety of types of student work that can be selected as samples for a portfolio. Using the purposes given above for each type of portfolio, I have listed just a few such possible samples of work in the following tables that could be included in each type of portfolio.

Growth Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Purpose y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Some possible inclusions
early and later pieces of work early and later tests/scores rough drafts and final drafts reflections on growth goal-setting sheets reflections on progress toward goal(s)

a. to show growth or change over time

samples which reflect growth of process skills self-reflection sheets accompanying samples of work reflection sheets from teacher or peer identification of strengths/weaknesses goal-setting sheets reflections on progress towards goal(s) see more detail below under Process below

b. to help develop process skills

samples of work reflecting specifically identified strengths and weaknesses reflections on strengths and weaknesses of samples goal-setting sheets reflection on progress towards goal(s)

c. to identify strengths/weaknesses

d. to track development of one or more products or performances

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obviously, drafts of the specific product or performance to be tracked self-reflections on drafts reflection sheets from teacher or peer

Showcase Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Purpose a. to showcase end-ofyear/semester accomplishments y y y y y Some possible inclusions
samples of best work samples of earlier and later work to document progress final tests or scores discussion of growth over semester/year awards or other recognition

y y y y y y y y y y y y y

teacher or peer comments

cover letter sample of work reflection on process of creating sample of work reflection on growth teacher or peer comments description of knowledge/skills work indicates

b. to prepare a sample of best work for employment or college admission

samples of student's favorite, best or most important work drafts of that work to illustrate path taken to its final form commentary on strengths/weaknesses of work reflection on why it is favorite, best or most important reflection on what has been learned from work teacher or peer comments

c. to showcase student perceptions of favorite, best or most important

d. to communicate a student's current aptitude

y y y y y

representative sample of current work match of work with standards accomplished self-reflection on current aptitudes teacher reflection on student's aptitudes identification of future goals

Evaluation Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Purpose y y a. to document achievement for grading y y y y y Some possible inclusions
samples of representative work in each subject/unit/topic to be graded samples of work documenting level of achievement on course/grade-level goals/standards/objectives tests/scores rubrics/criteria used for evaluation of work (when applied) self-reflection on how well samples indicate attainment ofcourse/grade-level goals/standards/objectives teacher reflection of attainment of goals/standards identification of strengths/weaknesses

b. to document progress towards standards

y y y y y y

list of applicable goals and standards representative samples of work aligned with respective goals/standards rubrics/criteria used for evaluation of work self-reflection on how well samples indicate attainment ofcourse/grade-level goals/standards/objectives teacher reflection of attainment of goals/standards analysis or evidence of progress made toward standards over course of semester/year

c. to place students appropriately

y y y y y y y y y

representative samples of current work representative samples of earlier work to indicate rate of progress classroom tests/scores external tests/evaluations match of work with standards accomplished self-reflection on current aptitudes teacher reflection on student's aptitudes parent reflection on student's aptitudes other professionals' reflections on student's aptitudes

Other Content In addition to samples of student work and reflection upon that work, a portfolio might also include a table of contents or a cover letter (both typically composed by the student) to aid a reader in making sense of the purposes, processes and contents of the portfolio. This can be particularly useful if the portfolio is to be shared with external audiences unfamiliar with the coursework such as parents, other educators and community members.

Process: What processes will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio? One of the greatest attributes of the portfolio is its potential for focusing on the processes of learning. Too often in education we emphasize the products students create or the outcomes they achieve. But we do not give sufficient attention to the processes required to create those products or outcomes, the processes involved in self-diagnosis and self-improvement, or the metacognitive processes of thinking. As a result, the products or outcomes are not as good as we or the students would like because they are often unsure how to get started, how to self-diagnose or self-correct or how to determine when a piece of work is "finished." Although a variety of processes can be developed or explored through portfolios, I will focus on three of the most common:

y y y

selection of contents of the portfolio; reflection on the samples of work and processes; conferencing about the contents and processes.

Selection of Contents Once again, identifying the purpose(s) for the portfolio should drive the selection process. As listed in the tables above, different samples of student work will likely be selected for different purposes. Additionally, how samples are selected might also differ depending on the purpose. For example, for an evaluation portfolio, the teacher might decide which samples need to be included to evaluate student progress. On the other hand, including the student in the decision-making process of determining appropriate types of samples for inclusion might be more critical for a growth portfolio to promote meaningful reflection. Finally, a showcase portfolio might be designed to include significant input from the student on which samples best highlight achievement and progress, or the teacher might primarily make those decisions. Furthermore, audiences beyond the teacher and student might have input into the content of the porfolio, from team or department members, principals and district committees to external agencies to parents and community members. External audiences are most likely to play a role for evaluation portfolios. However, it is important to remember there are no hard rules about portfolios. Anything can be included in a portfolio. Anyone can be involved in the processes of selection, reflection and evaluation of a portfolio. Flexibility applies to portfolios as it does to any authentic assessment. That is, you should be true to your purpose(s), but you should feel no constraints on how you meet them with a portfolio assignment. How might the selection take place? What I will describe below are just a few of the many possible avenues for selecting which samples will be included in a portfolio. But these examples should give you a good sense of some of the choices and some of the decisions involved. When?

y

y

y

when a sample of work is completed -- at the point a piece of work is ready to be turned in (or once the work has been returned by the teacher) the student or teacher identifies that work for inclusion in the portfolio; at periodic intervals -- instead of selecting samples when they are completed, the samples can be stored so that selection might occur every two (three, six or nine) weeks or once (twice or three times) every quarter (trimester or semester); at the end of the ... unit, quarter, semester, year, etc.

By whom?

y

y y y

y

by the student -- students are the most common selectors, particularly for portfolios that ask them to reflect on the work selected. Which work students select depends on the criteria used to choose each piece (see below). by the teacher -- teachers may be the selector, particularly when identifying best pieces of work to showcase a student's strengths or accomplishments. by the student and teacher -- sometimes portfolio selection is a joint process involving conversation and collaboration. by peers -- a student might be assigned a "portfolio partner" or "portfolio buddy" who assists the student in selecting appropriate pieces of work often as part of a joint process involving conversation and collaboration. A peer might also provide some reflection on a piece of work to be included in the portfolio. by parents -- parents might also be asked to select a piece or two for inclusion that they particularly found impressive, surprising, reflective of improvement, etc.

Based on what criteria?

y y

y

y y

y

best work -- selection for showcase portfolios will typically focus on samples of work that illustrate students' best performance in designated areas or the culmination of progress made evidence of growth -- selection for growth portfolios will focus on identifying samples of work and work processes (e.g., drafts, notes) that best capture progress shown on designated tasks, processes or acquisition of knowledge and skills. For example, students might be asked to choose o samples of earlier and later work highlighting some skill or content area o samples of rough drafts and final drafts o work that traces the development of a particular product or performance o samples of work reflecting specifically identified strengths and weaknesses evidence of achievement -- particularly for showcase and evaluation portfolios, selection might focus on samples of work that illustrate current levels of competence in designated areas or particular exemplars of quality work evidence of standards met -- similarly, selection could focus on samples of work that illustrate how successfully students have met certain standards favorite/most important piece -- to help develop recognition of the value of the work completed and to foster pride in that work, selection might focus on samples to which students or parents or others find a connection or with which they are particularly enamored one or more of the above -- a portfolio can include samples of work for multiple reasons and, thus, more than one of the above criteria (or others) could be used for selecting samples to be included

Reflection on Samples of Work Many educators who work with portfolios consider the reflection component the most critical element of a good portfolio. Simply selecting samples of work as described above can produce meaningful stories about students, and others can benefit from "reading" these stories. But the students themselves are missing significant benefits of the portfolio process if they are not asked to reflect upon the quality and growth of their work. As Paulson, Paulson and Meyer (1991) stated, "The portfolio is something that is done by the student, not to the student." Most importantly, it is something done for the student. The student needs to be directly involved in each phase of the portfolio development to learn the most from it, and the reflection phase holds the most promise for promoting student growth. In the reflection phase students are typically asked to

y y y y y y y y y y

comment on why specific samples were selected or comment on what they liked and did not like in the samples or comment on or identify the processes involved in developing specific products or performances or describe and point to examples of how specific skills or knowledge improved (or did not) or identify strengths and weaknesses in samples of work or set goals for themselves corresponding to the strengths and weaknesses or identify strategies for reaching those goals or assess their past and current self-efficacy for a task or skill or complete a checklist or survey about their work or some combination of the above

Reflection sheets Probably the most common portfolio reflection task is the completion of a sheet to be attached to the sample (or samples) of work which the reflection is addressing. The possibilities for reflection questions or prompts are endless, but some examples I have seen include Selection questions/prompts

y y y y

Why did you select this piece? Why should this sample be included in your portfolio? How does this sample meet the criteria for selection for your portfolio? I chose this piece because ....

Growth questions/prompts

y y y y y y y y

What are the strengths of this work? Weaknesses? What would you work on more if you had additional time? How has your ______ (e.g., writing) changed since last year? What do you know about ______ (e.g., the scientific method) that you did not know at the beginning of the year (or semester, etc.)? Looking at (or thinking about) an earlier piece of similar work, how does this new piece of work compare? How is it better or worse? Where can you see progress or improvement? How did you get "stuck" working on this task? How did you get "unstuck"? One skill I could not perform very well but now I can is .... From reviewing this piece I learned ....

Goal-setting questions/prompts

y y y y y

What is one thing you can improve upon in this piece? What is a realistic goal for the end of the quarter (semester, year)? What is one way you will try to improve your ____ (e.g., writing)? One thing I still need to work on is .... I will work toward my goal by ....

Evaluation questions/prompts

y y y y

If you were a teacher and grading your work, what grade would you give it and why? Using the appropriate rubric, give yourself a score and justify it with specific traits from the rubric. What do you like or not like about this piece of work? I like this piece of work because ....

Effort questions/prompts

y y y

How much time did you spend on this product/performance? The work would have been better if I had spent more time on .... I am pleased that I put significant effort into ....

Overall portfolio questions/prompts

y y y

What would you like your _____ (e.g., parents) to know about or see in your portfolio? What does the portfolio as a whole reveal about you as a learner (writer, thinker, etc.)? A feature of this portfolio I particularly like is ....

y

In this portfolio I see evidence of ....

As mentioned above, students (or others) can respond to such questions or prompts when a piece of work is completed, while a work is in progress or at periodic intervals after the work has been collected. Furthermore, these questions or prompts can be answered by the student, the teacher, parents, peers or anyone else in any combination that best serves the purposes of the portfolio. Other reflection methods In addition to reflection sheets, teachers have devised a myriad of means of inducing reflection from students and others about the collection of work included in the portfolio. For example, those engaging in reflection can

y y y y y

write a letter to a specific audience about the story the portfolio communicates write a "biography" of a piece of work tracing its development and the learning that resulted write periodic journal entries about the progress of the portfolio compose an imaginary new "chapter" that picks up where the story of the portfolio leaves off orally share reflections on any of the above questions/prompts Reflection as a process skill

Good skill development requires four steps:

y y y y

Instruction and modeling of the skill; Practice of the skill; Feedback on one's practice; Reflection on the practice and feedback.

Reflection itself is a skill that enhances the process of skill development and virtually all learning in innumerable settings. Those of us who are educators, for example, need to continually reflect upon what is working or not working in our teaching, how we can improve what we are doing, how we can help our students make connections to what they are learning, and much, much more. Thus, it is critical for students to learn to effectively reflect upon their learning and growth. As a skill, reflection is not something that can be mastered in one or two attempts. Developing good reflective skills requires instruction and modeling, lots of practice, feedback and reflection. As many of you have probably encountered, when students are first asked to respond to prompts such as "I selected this piece because..." they may respond with "I think it is nice." Okay, that's a start. But we would like them to elaborate on that response. The fact that they did not initially elaborate is probably not just a result of resistance or reluctance. Students need to learn how to respond to such prompts. They need to learn how to effectively identify strengths and weaknesses, to set realistic goals for themselves and their work, and to develop meaningful strategies to address those goals. Students often have become dependent upon adults, particularly teachers, to evaluate their work. They need to learn self-assessment. So, the reflection phase of the portfolio process should be ongoing throughout the portfolio development. Students need to engage in multiple reflective activities. Those instances of reflection become particularly focused if goal-setting is part of their reflection. Just as instruction and assessment are more appropriately targeted if they are tied to specific standards or goals, student identification of and reflection upon strengths and weaknesses, examples of progress, and strategies for improvement will be more meaningful and purposeful if they are directed toward specific goals, particularly self-chosen goals.

Once opportunities for reflection (practice) take place, feedback to and further reflection upon student observations can be provided by conversations with others. Conferencing is one tool to promote such feedback and reflection.

Conferencing on Student Work and Processes With 20 or 30 or more students in a classroom, one-on-one conversations between the teacher and student are difficult to regularly arrange. That is unfortunate because the give and take of face-to-face interaction can provide the teacher with valuable information about the student's thinking and progress and provide the student with meaningful feedback. Such feedback is also more likely to be processed by the student than comments written on paper. Conferencing typically takes several forms:

y

y

y

teacher/student -- sometimes teachers are able to informally meet with a few students, one at a time, as the other students work on some task in class. Other times, teachers use class time to schedule one-on-one conferences during "conference days." Some teachers are able to schedule conferences outside of class time. Typically such conferences take only a few minutes, but they give the teacher and the student time to recap progress, ask questions, and consider suggestions or strategies for improvement. teacher/small group -- other teachers, often in composition classes, meet with a few students at a time to discuss issues and questions that are raised, sharing common problems and reflections across students. student/student -- to conserve time as well as to give students the opportunity to learn how to provide feedback along with receiving it, teachers sometimes structure peer-to-peer conferencing. The focus might be teacher-directed (e.g., "share with each other a sample of work you recently selected for your portfolio") or student-directed (e.g., students use the time to get feedback on some work for a purpose they determine).

Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio? As appealing as the process of students developing a portfolio can be, the physical and time constraints of such a process can be daunting. Where do you keep all the stuff? How do you keep track of it? Who gets access to it and when? Should you manage paper or create an electronic portfolio? Does some work get sent home before it is put in the portfolio? Will it come back? When will you find the time for students to participate, to reflect, to conference? What about students who join your class in the middle of the semester or year? There is one answer to all these questions that can make the task less daunting: start small! That is good advice for many endeavors, but particularly for portfolios because there are so many factors to consider, develop and manage over a long period of time. In the final section of this chapter (Can I do portfolios without all the fuss?) I will elaborate on how you can get your feet wet with portfolios and avoid drowning in the many decisions described below. How you answer the many management questions below depends, in part, on how you answered earlier questions about your purpose, audience, content and process. Return to those answers to help you address the following decisions:

Management Decisions Should the portfolio building process wait until the end or should it occur as you go? y y

Possible Solutions
The easiest solution is to collect work samples along the way but save the selection and reflection until the end, keeping selection simple and limiting the amount of reflection. The more involved (and more common) approach is for participants

to periodically make selections and to engage in reflection throughout the process. This gives the student time to respond to identified weaknesses and to address goals set.

y

Paper Portfolio: As you know, the most common form of portfolios is a collection of paper products such as essays, problem sets, journal entries, posters, etc. Most products produced in classrooms are still in paper form, so it makes sense to find ways to collect, select from and reflect upon these items. Hybrid Portfolio: Other forms of products are increasingly available, however, so teachers are adding videotapes, audiotapes, 3-D models, artwork and more to the containers holding the paper products. Electronic Portfolio: Since many of the paper products are now first created in an electronic format, it makes sense to consider keeping some samples of work in that format. Storage is much easier and portability is significantly increased. Additionally, as it becomes easier to digitize almost any media it is possible to add audio and video examples of student work to the electronic portfolio. A considerable amount of work can be burned to a CD or DVD or displayed on a website. An electronic compilation can be shared with a larger audience and more easily follow a student to other grades, teachers and schools. Copies can be made and kept.

y Will the portfolios be composed of paper or stored electronically (or both)? y

Obviously, the answer to this question depends on your answer to the previous question about storage format. The possible solutions I describe below will assume that you have chosen an option that includes at least some paper products. A common model for portfolio maintenance is to have two folders for each student -- a working folder and a portfolio folder. As work samples are produced they are stored in the working folder. Students (or other selectors) would periodically review the working folder to select certain pieces to be included in the portfolio folder. Usually reflection accompanies the selection process. For example, a reflection sheet may be attached to each piece before it is placed in the portfolio. In addition to manilla or hanging folders, portfolio contents have also been stored in pizza or laundry detergent boxes, cabinets, binders and accordian folders (Rolheiser, Bower & Stevahn, 2000). For older students, some teachers have the students keep the work samples. Then they are periodically asked to select from and reflect upon the work. Students might only keep the working folders while the teacher manages the portfolio folders. As a parent, I know I also would like to look at my child's work before the end of the semester or year. So, some teachers send work home in carefully structured folders. One side of a two-pocket folder might be labeled "keep at home" while the other side might be labeled "return to school." The work likely to end up in the portfolio would be sent home in the "return to school" pocket.

y

Where will the work samples and reflections be kept?

y y

y

y y Who will be responsible for saving/storing them?

Typically the teacher keep the contents of the portfolio as they are usually stored in the classroom. Older students (and sometimes younger ones) are also given the responsibility of managing their portfolios in the classroom, making sure all samples make it into the appropriate folders/containers, remain there, are put back when removed, and are kept neatly organized. As mentioned above, older students sometimes are required to keep track of their work outside the classroom, bringing it to class on certain days for reflection and other tasks. For electronic portfolios, it usually depends on teacher preference and whether or not students have access to storage space on the network or can save samples locally, or burn them to CDs or DVD, or add

y y

them to websites.

Who? Again, that depends on the purposes for the portfolio.

y y y y Who will have access to it, and when? y
When?

Usually the teacher and student will have access to the working folder or the final samples. But, for some types of showcase portfolios, only the teacher might have access because she is constructing the portfolio about the student. For older students, the teacher might only have limited access as the student controls the portfolio's development. Parents might have access and input as samples of work are sent home. Other educators might also have access to final portfolios for larger evaluative purposes.

y y

Typically, students and teachers contribute samples to a working folder as they are created. Access to a portfolio folder is gained on a more regular schedule as times for selection and reflection are scheduled. Parents or other educators might have access at certain intervals depending on the purpose of the portfolio and the process that has been chosen.

y

How will portfolio progress be tracked?

A checklist sheet is sometimes attached to the front of a folder so that the teacher or the student can keep track of when and which samples have been added, which have been removed (temporarily or permanently), when reflections have been completed, when conferences have taken place, and whether or not any other requirements have been completed. The teacher might just keep a schedule of when selections, reflections or conferences are to take place. Older students might be required to keep track of the process to make sure all requirements are met.

y y

Once again, this depends on the purposes and audiences for the portfolio, as well as the type of contents to be included. Showcase portfolios will typically have a more formal and polished presentation. A cover letter or introduction along with a table of contents might be included to provide context for a potentially wide range of readers, and to give the student or teacher a chance to more fully flesh out the student's story. Growth or evaluation portfolios might have a less formal presentation, unless the evaluation is part of a high stakes assessment. If the student and teacher are the primary readers, less context is needed. However, if parents are the primary or a significant intended audience, more explanation or context will be needed.

y What will the final product look like? y

y

What if students join your class in the middle of the process?

Obviously, one advantage of choosing to build the portfolio at the end of a period of time rather than build it along the way (see the first question) is that transient students can still easily participate. They have less work to consider, but they can still engage in the selection and reflection process. If selection and reflection occur as work is being produced, the new student can simply join the process in progress. Some adaptation will likely be necessary, but the student can still demonstrate growth or competence over a shorter period of time. If the portfolio is also to be evaluated, further adjustment will need to

y

y

be made.

Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences? Why share the portfolio? By the nature of the purposes of portfolios -- to show growth, to showcase excellence -- portfolios are meant to be shared. The samples, reflections and other contents allow or invite others to observe and celebrate students' progress and accomplishments. A portfolio should tell a story, and that story should be told. Students should primarily be the ones telling their stories. As students reflect on the balance of their work over some period of time, there is often a great sense of pride at the growth and the accomplishment. By telling their own stories students can take ownership of the process that led to the growth and achievement. Assessment is no longer something done to them; the students are playing an active role through self-assessment. Furthermore, others will be able to recognize and celebrate in the growth and accomplishment of the students if their work is communicated beyond the borders of the classroom. A portfolio provides a unique vehicle for capturing and communicating student learning. Parents tend to learn more about their children's abilities and propensities through a portfolio than they do through the odd assignment that makes it home and into the parents' hands. Moreover, other interested members of the school and local community can recognize and celebrate the accomplishment. Finally, the portfolio can provide an excellent tool for accountability. Parents, educators and community members can learn a great deal about what is happening in a classroom or school or district by viewing and hearing about the contents of these stories. Perhaps more importantly, the student and teacher can uncover a vivid picture of where the student was, where she has traveled to, how she got there and what she accomplished along the way -- a fascinating and enlightening story. Considering the audience Of course, deciding how to tell the story will be influenced by the intended audience. For example, presenting a collection of work to a teacher who is already familiar with much of the content will likely require a different approach than presenting that work as part of a college application. Audiences within the classroom In some classrooms, a portfolio is used much like other assignments as evidence of progress towards or completion of course or grade level goals and standards. In such cases, the only audience might be the teacher who evaluates all the student work. To effectively communicate with the teacher about a body of work, the student may be asked to write a brief introduction or overview capturing her perceptions of the progress (for a growth portfolio) or accomplishments (for a showcase portfolio) reflected in the collection of work. Teachers who assign portfolios not only want to see student work but want to see students reflect upon it. As a classroom assessor, the teacher also has the benefit of communicating face-to-face with each student. Such conferences take a variety of forms and vary in their frequency. For example,

y

A teacher might review a portfolio at one or more intervals, and then prepare questions for the face-to-face conversation with each student;

y y

A student might run the conference by taking the teacher through her portfolio, highlighting elements consistent with the purpose of the portfolio; A "pre-conference" might occur in which teacher and student discuss how the portfolio should be constructed to best showcase it or best prepare it for evaluation.

Additionally, classmates can serve as an audience for a portfolio. Particulary for older students, some teachers require or encourage students to present their portfolios to each other for feedback, dialogue and modeling. For example,

y y y

Pairs of students can review each other's work to provide feedback, identify strengths and weaknesses, and suggest future goals; Sharing with each other also provides an opportunity to tell a story or just brag; Students can always benefit from seeing good (or poor) models of work as well as models of meaningful reflection and goal-setting.

As students hear themselves tell each other about the value and meaning of their work it will become more valuable and meaningful to them. Audiences within the family and school community As many of us have experienced with our own children, parents sometimes only receive a small, fragmented picture of their children's school work. Some work never makes it home, some is lost, some is hidden, etc. It can be even harder for parents to construct a coherent picture out of that work to get a real sense of student growth or accomplishment or progress toward a set of standards. Portfolios provide an opportunity to give parents a fuller glimpse of the processes and products and progress of their children's learning. Many teachers intentionally involve the parents in the development of the portfolio or make parents an audience or both. For example, to involve parents in the process,

y

y

teachers make sure parents view most student work on a consistent basis; for example, o some teachers require students to get much of their work signed by parents to be returned to school; o some teachers send work home in a two-pocket folder in which one pocket contains work that can stay home and the other pocket contains work that can be viewed by parents but should be returned to school, each pocket carefully labeled as such; o some teachers use a three-pocket folder in which the third pocket is a place parents can pass along notes or comments or questions; teachers also invite parents to provide feedback or ask questions about student work; for example, o a reflection sheet, perhaps similar to the ones students complete, can be attached to some of the pieces of work sent home inviting parents to make comments, ask questions or provide evaluation; o parents might be invited to provide a summary reflection of work they have seen so far; o or simply identify one or two pieces of work or aspects of their children's work that they most like or are most surprised about.

To share the portfolio with parents,

y

many schools host Portfolio Nights, at which students often guide their parent or parents through the story of their work. Having the Night at school allows the student to more easily share the variety of two- and three-dimensional work they have created.

y

after teacher evaluation of the portfolio (if that is done), the complete portfolio might be sent home for the parents to view and possibly respond to. This might occur once at the end of the process or periodically along the way.

A Portfolio Night also provides an opportunity for other members of the school or larger community to view student portfolios. The portfolios may simply be on display to be sampled, or students might guide other audiences through their work. Similarly, during the school day students can share their portfolios with students from other classes or with school personnel. Audiences beyond the classroom, school and family An external audience for student work can serve to motivate students to give more attention to and take more seriously their performance. First, it may give more legitimacy to assigned work. If the work is to be externally reviewed, it suggests that it is not simply "busy work" that provides a grade but that it is something authentic valued outside the walls of the classroom. Second, some students may take more care in their work when they believe a new, different, and perhaps expert audience will be viewing it. To extend the audience beyond the classroom, school and family, teachers have adopted a variety of approaches, including

y y y y

expanding the audience at Portfolio Nights to include a larger community, perhaps even authors, or scientists or other professionals relevant to the work in the portfolio; inviting professionals or experts in a particular field to come listen to presentations of the portfolios; inviting professionals or experts to serve as one of the reviewers or evaluators of the portfolios; encourage or require students to share their work with a larger audience through the Web or other media. Publishing on the Web also allows students to solicit comments or questions. Preparing the student to share

Just as we do not expect children to write or speak well without considerable instruction and practice, it is not reasonable to expect students to effortlessly and effectively share their stories without some help. Teachers have devised a number of strategies to prepare students to communicate with the target audience. Some such strategies include

y y

y

pairing up students in class ("portfolio partners") to practice presenting their work to each other; pairing up the author of the portfolio with an older student a few grades above. The younger student would practice presenting her work as if she is presenting it to the intended audience (e.g., parents at a Portfolio Night). Both students can benefit as the older student provides feedback and encouragement and may increase her own self-efficacy for the task through modeling and tutoring the younger student. providing models. Teachers provide models of good portfolios that illustrate how the product itself can effectively communicate with an audience through the way it is constructed. Teachers can also model the process of communication by walking through how he or she would share a portfolio with a specific audience.

Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, how and when should it be evaluated? As with all of the elements of portfolios described above, how and when evaluation is addressed varies widely across teachers, schools and districts. Take, for example, « Evaluation vs. Grading Evaluation refers to the act of making a judgment about something. Grading takes that process one step further by assigning a grade to that judgment. Evaluation may be sufficient for a portfolio assignment. What is (are) the purpose(s) of the portfolio? If the purpose is to demonstrate growth, the teacher could make judgments about the evidence of progress and provide those judgments as feedback to the student or make note of them for her own records. Similarly, the student could selfassess progress shown or not shown, goals met or not met. No grade needs to be assigned. On a larger scale, an evaluation of the contents within the portfolio or of the entire package may be conducted by external bodies (e.g., community members, other educators, state boards) for the purpose of judging completion of certain standards or requirements. Although the evaluation is serious, and graduation might even hinge on it, no classroom grade may be assigned. On the other hand, the work within the portfolio and the process of assembling and reflecting upon the portfolio may comprise such a significant portion of a student's work in a grade or class that the teacher deems it appropriate to assign a value to it and incorporate it into the student's final grade. Alternatively, some teachers assign grades because they believe without grades there would not be sufficient incentive for some students to complete the portfolio. Ahh, but « What to Grade Nothing. Some teachers choose not to grade the portfolio because they have already assigned grades to the contents selected for inclusion. The metacognitive and organizational elements. But the portfolio is more than just a collection of student work. Depending on its purpose, students might have also included reflections on growth, on strengths and weaknesses, on goals that were or are to be set, on why certain samples tell a certain story about them, or on why the contents reflect sufficient progress to indicate completion of designated standards. Some of the process skills may also be part of the teacher's or school's or district's standards. So, the portfolio provides some evidence of attainment of those standards. Any or all of these elements can be evaluated and/or graded. Completion. Some portfolios are graded simply on whether or not the portfolio was completed. Everything. Other teachers evaluate the entire package: the selected samples of student work as well as the reflection, organization and presentation of the portfolio. How to Grade/Evaluate Most of the portfolio assignments I have seen have been evaluated or graded with a rubric. A great deal of personal judgment goes into evaluating a complex product such as a portfolio. Thus, applying a rubric, a tool which can provide some clarity and consistency to the evaluation of such products, to the judgment of quality of the story being told and the elements making up that story makes sense. Moreover, if the portfolio is to be evaluated my multiple judges, application of a rubric increases the likelihood of consistency among the judges.

Examples of Portfolio Rubrics What might a portfolio rubric look like? If the focus of the grading is primarily on whether the samples of student work within the portfolio demonstrate certain competencies, the criteria within the rubric will target those competencies. For example, Evaluating competencies

y

Electrical and computer engineering portfolio rubric

Or, Completing requirements

y

Sophomore honors program portfolio rubric - to gain admission

Meeting standards

y

State of Idaho portfolio rubric

Evaluating metacognitive and organizational elements only

y

12th grade writing portfolio rubric

Evaluating the portfolio as a whole

y y y y

Portfolio rubric - very global criteria Senior exit portfolio rubric - very detailed criteria Electronic portfolio rubric Electronic portfolio rubric - very detailed criteria

Who evaluates The more we can involve students in the assessment process, the more likely they will take ownership of it, be engaged in it, and find it worthwhile. So, it makes sense to involve students in the evaluation process of their portfolios as well. They have likely engaged in some self-assessment in the reflection or goal-setting components of the portfolio. Additionally, students are capable of evaluating how well their portfolio elements meet standards, requirements, or competencies, for their own portfolios or those of their peers. Furthermore, older peers could make excellent judges of the work of younger students. Cross-grade peer tutoring has demonstrated how well the older and younger students respond to such interactions. Obviously, the classroom teacher, other educators, review board members, community members, etc. can all serve as judges of student work. If multiple judges are used, particularly if they are not directly familiar with the student work or assignments, training on a rubric should be provided before evaluation proceeds. The evaluators should be familiar with and clear on the criteria and the levels of performance within the rubric. A calibration session, in which the judges evaluate some sample portfolios and then share ratings to reach some consensus on what each criteria and level of performance within the rubric means, can provide a good opportunity for judges to achieve some competence and consistency in applying a rubric.

Can I do Portfolios Without all the Fuss?
Oh, what fun would that be! Actually, the answer is a qualified "yes." Portfolios do typically require considerable work, particularly if conferencing is involved. But with most anything, including assessment, I recommend that you start small. Here's a quick, easy way to get started if any of the above thoughts has either encouraged you or not discouraged you from considering assigning portfolios in your little world. The following describes just one possible way to get started. Step 1. Depending on the age of your students and other considerations, have students select two pieces of their work over the course of a quarter (or three or four over a semester). Decide (with your students or without) upon one or more criteria by which the selection will be guided (e.g., their best work). To limit management time, don't wait for the end of the quarter for students to make those selections. Otherwise, all their work will have to be collected along the way. Instead, if you want to keep it simple, tell your students ahead of time that they will be selecting two or more pieces matching certain criteria, and that you will ask them to do it at the point each sample is completed. Step 2. At the time a student selects a sample to be included in his portfolio, require the student to complete a brief reflection sheet and attach it to the sample. Step 3. Depending on the age of your students, ask your student to save that sample and the attached reflection sheet until the end of the quarter or semester, or collect it and store it yourself at that point. Step 4. At the end of the quarter or semester, ask your students to reflect upon the samples one additional time by describing what they liked best about their work, or by identifying strengths and weaknesses, or by setting one or two goals for the future. There, that wasn't too painful. Okay, you ask, that was relatively simple, but did it really accomplish anything? Good question. If you don't think so, don't do it. On the other hand, it could possibly have a few benefits worth the effort. First, if nothing else it gave you some experience working with portfolios. If you want to pursue portfolios in a more elaborate manner, at least you are now more familiar with some of the issues involved. Second, if you think developing self-assessment skills in your students is a worthwhile goal, you have also begun that process. Even a little reflection on your students' part may be more than some of them typically give to their work. Finally, you may have opened, even if it is just a little bit, a new avenue for you and your students to communicate with their parents about their performance, their strengths and weaknesses, and their habits. Any of those reasons may be sufficient to try your hand at portfolios. Good luck!

Authentic learning must make information meaningful to the students. In order to do so, the environment in which learning takes place must also be meaningful. Why should students lea rn how to solve word problems about things that will never happen, when there is so much in their lives that already involves math, reading, writing, or any other subject matter? What exactly would it require to incorporate student's prior knowledge into what they learn in school? As Brown, Duguid, and Collins state, "Activity, concept, and culture are interdependent. No one can be totally understood without the other two. Learning must involve all three". Learning must reflect actual practice. This stance is also reflected by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards(1989). These standards require that teachers use "real world problems to motivate and apply theory." These standards take mathematics away from being abstract concepts, to ideas that the students can understand...ideas that are situated

within what they already know(4). By making word problems and other lessons closely related to the students lives, the tasks become more meaningful and more authentic. As explained by Wolf et. al., children become more excited about literature when they are able to relate the stories to things they have already observed(5). Brown, Collins, and Duguid also suggest that the most effective way to learn is through cognitive apprenticeships. They take the apprenticeship idea of learning skills of a trade from an expert and apply it to learning in school. For example, students should use the same tools and language as experts. The culture of learning should match the culture of the experts. Part of apprenticeships is having someone to support you in case you have questions or fail. As termed by Vygotsky, scaffolding allows help when students need it and allow them to work freely when they can accomplish the tasks by themselves. An authentic learning environment would have to incorporate these fading scaffolds in order to move students to new levels of development. Teachers must also provide structure and support reflection(4). How is it possible to include all of these things into a classroom? It is important to remember that authenticity does not mean you have to take students to the Louvre to learn about art, but that each lesson plan should subtly increase the amount of authenticity involved in the tasks. For example tasks can fall on a continuum of authenticity where memorizing facts about paintings would be less authentic than visiting a web site that has a guided tour. But the guided tour is less authentic than actually visiting the museum. Schools should aim to make student experiences as authentic as possible to what happens in real life, and in doing so should provide support for the students to be reflective and to learn. Technology offers great advantages for authentic environments that were not available before. Technology can provide scaffolds for the students, and can allow students access to tools not normally encountered in schools.

Introduction

What is authentic learning and assessment? We are calling on you to go on a scavenger hunt on the Internet and find out! The rest of this document provides you with instructions and resources, which will enable you to complete the task. to the top
The task

Consider the following scenario: The principal of your school asks you to facilitate a workshop with your colleagues. The purpose of the workshop is to y y explain the characteristics of authentic learning and assessment and to showcase an example of an authentic learning and assessment task in the subject that

you teach. You are required to design and develop a PowerPoint presentation for the workshop. Read the information under the next heading very carefully. to the top
The process

Firstly, work through the resources listed later in this document. We have included resources on how to create a PowerPoint presentation for those of you who are not familiar with PowerPoint yet. Based on the information, which you will find in the resources, create a PowerPoint presentation in which you y y List and briefly explain the characteristics of authentic learning and assessment tasks. Showcase an example of an authentic learning and assessment task in the subject that you teach. The authentic learning and assessment task that you showcase must include the following: o o an activity brief (explaining to students what they must do and how to do it) the outcomes that will be assessed and the assessment criteria that will be used.

Once you have completed the PowerPoint presentation, submit your work in the drop-box for Assignment 3. You are linked to the drop-box from the Learning Module for Theme 4.

~ Remember that your audience is made up of fellow teachers at your school ~ ~ PowerPoint slides should not be cluttered with information ~ ~ Use the Notes section at the bottom of a slide to include information that you will talk about when doing your presentation ~ to the top
The resources PowerPoint resources

Learn what you need to know to put together a PowerPoint presentation without fuss Create a PowerPoint presentation (resource)
Authentic learning resources

Definition of authentic learning (you may need to scroll down the page) Authentic assessment toolbox
Authentic learning (see checklist on page 4 - 6 of this document) Framework for authentic learning

Authentic learning resource to the top

The evaluation of your work

A grading form will be used to grade your work. This is done specifically to illustrate to you how technology can be used to support learning and assessment. The grading form will be available in the Assignment box for this theme (Assignment 3 drop-box). You will see a Grading Form "Preview" button at the top of the Assignment screen. Click to view the grading form. to the top
Conclusion

We hope that this exercise helped you increase your knowledge about authentic learning and assessment, and also enhanced your PowerPoint skills. After the due date for this activity, the grading form will be completed.

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